Years ago, people who weren’t used to public speaking or presentations would pepper their speeches with ums, ahs and ers.
The good old days, hmm? The modern equivalent is “you know”. If you’re a regular listener to podcasts as I am you will hear this phrase repeatedly. Americans are particular offenders, but the practice is spreading.
I find it grating. The odd use here and there is okay – although I’d prefer an er or an um – but I listen to podcasts where people use it every few words.
If you listen to broadcasting professionals, such as those who present BBC radio shows for example, you probably won’t hear the phrase. “You know” separates the professionals from the amateurs. To stop using it, or at least to stop over-using it, a presenter needs to slow speech down.
There’s a tendency these days for people to talk too fast. Modernity encourages short attention spans so we all speak quickly, desperate to get our multiple points across. If you listen to old broadcasts or speeches from politicians, you will notice how slowly they speak. Slower speech sounds more authoritative and measured.
Sometimes I find myself using it in speech. It slips in if you haven’t given enough thought to what you are saying. If you’re an offender, keep this in mind:
“You know?” I don’t know. That’s why you’re telling me.