While I am digging through news feeds looking for material to scribe about, I am listening to The No Agenda Show. While you can say what you wish about John C. Dvorak and Adam Curry, personally, I love their show. I have been listening to Adam since his Daily Source Code podcast. I could not tell you how long I have read Dvorak and regardless of what he said about the PC mouse, I still think he is a required-tech-guru follow. Their snarky, critical thinking is a welcome change from the mainstream media.
As they often do, they were discussing politics. In this instance, the recent Democratic Debates. Mr. Dovorak presented a list of phrases that he noticed the participants often starting a sentence with… phrases that added nothing to the meaning of the sentence.
It dawned on my that John’s list would be a great list for a writer. The writer could use the list in two ways. On one hand, a writer should avoid using these phrases. On the other, they are great phrases to use for more believable dialogue in character conversation. I really wish I knew if these phrases have a name. I did a bit of digging and came up empty. I am hoping that Grammar Girl has an answer.
The only thing I discovered about them is that they act as a prompt in conversation. They alert the listener to the fact that you are about to send information. Similar to the old “breaker one-nine” in the CB days. Nonetheless, the list is a good one because the phrases are so commonly used, they are easy to miss in the edit. So, here is part of what they mentioned:
- At the end of the day
- The fact of the matter
- The truth of the matter
- When all is said and done
- Be that as it may
- You know what’s funny
- Guess what
- No matter what
- In other words (I abuse that one far too often)
- I’m telling ya
- That’s a good question (in my opinion, often translating to “give me a second to think of a response”)
- Let me tell you this about that
- Well (chronically abused by President Regan)
The duo from No Agenda said they might make a site with a list of all these useless phrases. I would love that. I also found a similar list at Lifehacker. I am hoping that they do create such a list. I know more than a few people who would likely contribute. The readers may also wish to check out No Agenda, episode 774 – Morally Deformed as they close the episode with a great mash-up of the hosts abusing “The fact of the matter”.
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