In praise of um… er….. deeper meaning

Gary L Murphy blogs these delightful insights on the value of those ums and ers which pepper our speech.

There’s also waaaaay more to language than what Mrs Whazzername taught back in Grade 5. Much more. There’s a subtle fluidity of invention beyond the reach of grammar books and a word-sound-power that only our neural pathways truly understand, like the ways r-uff and r-ough are subjectively identical and yet native english speakers learn to produce the two very electrically different sounds.

And so too with, you know, those, like, interjection things, y’know? According to new research Earl tells us was just published in Nature, science is on my side: ‘Er’ cautions listeners to stay on side; ‘Ums’ and ‘uhs’ contain meaning. Right on.

Once again, it turns out that what we do naturally has more value than we realise; whereas clever contrivances intended to “improve” our effectiveness often just destroy significance. A good lesson for all those presentation trainers and “image consultants” out there!

2 thoughts on “In praise of um… er….. deeper meaning

  1. A Networked World

    Err and Umm and Hmmm Are Real Words After All,

    After a career spent trying to drum padding and hesitations out of my own speech and that of trainee broadcasters, it seems I might have been contributing to lower communbication values after all. This story in Nature covers the field.

    Reply
  2. Occam's RazR

    Proof, er, Consequences

    My Platonic Talk post drew some attention from some fellow media trainers and communicators. Apparently, I have not been alone in my assertion that “perfect speech” is not the road to perfect communication, but is in fact a hindrance. Bac…

    Reply

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