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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Interjection abuse in speech

One of my numerous, albeit fairly minor, peeves concerns when someone who "has the floor" (for the non-native English speakers, this equates to "is in the position to be speaking" or "is commanding the audience's attention") chooses to use interjections in a noticeably frequent way. It's a technique we often use to buy thinking time, rather than pausing long enough to fully formulate sentences prior to delivering them.

A couple of common ones in my experience are "at this point in time" instead of just saying "now" and "you know". The second example is one I've used on occasion (much to my chagrin), usually when trying to rephrase a point to be made. In German, it seems that the equivalent phrase I hear most often is a  translation of the Latin "id est" or "i.e."; "das heißt". Another one I used to hear discomfitingly frequently was "to be perfectly honest with you". After hearing it umpteen times in a row, I had to suppress my strong desire to inquire "so if you don't say this, I may presume you're being disingenuous?"

Admittedly when I also fall into this trap, I can impersonally observe and explain the shift in my speech. It's partially triggered by a desire to nurture business relationships through the telephone through mirroring others' verbal mannerisms.

In any case, my struggle to curb the (excessive) use of interjections continues daily.

About Mayo

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Professional: I served as "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division until early 2018, during which I provided consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Before this I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Currently, I am stewarding a taxonomy and scaling the learning curve to (the IT sense of) ontologies.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.