We all use them. Quirks of speech.
In conversation, we’ll start a sentence with “Like…” or “In actual fact…” or “Basically…” or “So…” or (MY worst one) “I mean…” (I think I got it from Parky).
All of the above are intended to give qualification to the statement which follows.
And all the way through, we’ll pepper our dialogue with “and, errrr” and “sort of” and “you know”.
Then on the end, we’ll tack “…and like that” or “…right?” or (again, MY worst one) “…or something” (I KNOW I got that one from Bert Kwouk on Channel Four’s “Banzai”). Some Americans and Australians raise the inflection of the last word.
All of these are intended to elicit some response from the listener, in order to reassure us they’re paying attention.
And said response is likely to be a series of “quite”s, “uh-huh”s, more “right”s, or just “yeah”. Here in Thailand, it’ll be “ka”.
Anecdotally, we had a P.E. teacher who used “in actual fact” a lot. And we took great delight in straight-facedly using teachers’ catch-phrases when addressing them, as an in-joke. But Jack Fact, as we called him, was hip and when he caught on, began saying “In…REALITY…” (grin and wink).
He was a good sport, but some people become PARANOID when they realize they have acquired one of these quirks. And a well-established one can take MONTHS to shake off.
So why bother? After all, surely our speech patterns should be less important than what we have to say?
Well, yes. But an over-used quirk can quickly become an irritation to the listener and can over-ride the import of what we’re trying to say (think of Sybil Fawlty; “Eye kneow… eye kneow… eye kneow… ooh, eye kneow”).
So check YOUR speech patterns for over-used quirks. And, like, errrr, you know, try to – sort of – lose them, right?