Those who are or claim to be experts on something or another, and who because of their expertise receive air time on local radio and televisions programs, should note the following tips.
Use "clearly," only to clarify something your audience wouldn't think is clear in the first place. I heard a Vermont politician say, "The snow is clearly melting-clearly spring is on its way." Hey, Mr. Politician you're not on satellite radio-you're on local radio and you're talking to Vermonters. Vermonters who know that snow melting in March is a forerunner to spring. Your expert observation is clearly wasted expertise. (Take clearly out of the last sentence and see if it's missed.)
My hunch is we over use clearly because we've heard fancy talking heads on big-time media use it; you think using it makes you sound smart which legitimizes the amount of air time you've been allowed. Smart is knowing that the fewer times you use clearly the more space will be open to use pertinent words. CNN's John King and U.S. Gen. Petraues seldom him-haw around with unneeded language.
I heard a woman politician say, "It's sort-of going to be, a sort-of, grand celebration of our heritage."
I wondered-was it going to be grand or sort-of grand because I'll arrange my day around grand; I'll pay $25 to go see grand, I'll trudge around a waterfront on a sweltering hot afternoon to watch grand. I'm just not so sure I can get my gander up for sort-of grand.
Mrs. Politician, why not give the celebration its due? It's not going to sort-of grand-its going to be grand, dang it!
If you weigh 350 pounds, you aren't sort-of 350 pounds, you're 350 pounds. If you are 5'2" tall and weigh 350 pounds, you aren't so heavy-you're sort-of going to die, you're going to die. None of us are sort-of going die.
Sort-of users intentionally and very annoyingly clip the term when they speak it, and they don't enunciate the t, or the o and the f in the of. They say, "It 's going to be a sorduvf..." They often repeat it in the same sentence then pause: "A sorduvf, a sorduvf, grand celebration."
This kind of talking ticks me off and not sorduvf either.
The term "sort-of" is rife with subjectivity, too. I think you folks on the radio and television news programs (who have been called upon to enlighten and inform us on topics that are to be taken seriously) would want to load your thoughts with more rigor. Maybe not, maybe using sort-of gives everything you say a better chance of being right or less chance of being wrong.
Uh-you may not have caught on to the overuse of sort-of and clearly in media speak, but surely you've recognized, "uh" being blurted at will. And if you haven't, you need only listen to President Obama off the teleprompter. He's a big-time uher.
If Obama's at all concerned about his over uhing, he should study Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton is great to listen to if you ask me; one reason is because he's comfortable with silence. He'll take a question, squint, tilt his head a bit to the side, wait until he's ready, ignite, and begin his answer. I'm not knocking Barack, I'm just saying quite often when I hear him speak, the uhs screw with my attention span.
The fourth on air speaking affect that bothers me is the faux stutter:. "I, I, I, I think, cl... clearly think, uh, she'll sorduvf vote in our favor."
The expert in this case uses the stutter to illustrate how hard they're trying to be dead correct with their statement. They also like the way they sound when doing the faux stutter. They sound, they must imagine, like the people they aspire to emulate.
I know I'm far from sounding or thinking, or producing, or writing the way anyone worth a darned sounds, thinks, produces, or writes. However, I'd rather be a faulty original then a slick knock-off.
Radio and television call-in experts: search for your own truth not the sound of it.
Rusty DeWees tours Vermont and Northern New York with his act "The Logger." His column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen for The Logger, Rusty DeWees, Thursdays at 7:40 on the Big Station, 98.9 WOKO or visit his website at www.thelogger.com