Verbal crutches. We all use them. Many of us are susceptible to overuse of “ums.” Young people famously favor “likes.” Even great orators such as Barack Obama sprinkle their interview responses liberally with “ahs.” Obama is also among those prone to the use of “look,” to start answers, which can sometimes make him sound condescending and lecturey.
We don’t use these verbal crutches because we’re stupid, necessarily. We use them as a nervous habit, to calm ourselves. We use them to compose our thoughts. We use them to catch our breath.
But they can get out of control, and distract from what is being said. They also can make the speaker sound like a lightweight, which is something to avoid when you are the offspring of an oratorical legend auditioning for a spot in an institution often called “the greatest deliberative body in the world.”
In this 30-minute interview, Ms. Kennedy reportedly used her “you know” lifeline over 200 times. It’s tough to listen to.
The ever helpful New York Daily News suggests, “Caroline Kennedy, you know, might need, you know, a speech coach, um, if she, you know, wants, um, to be a senator.”
I was thinking a shock collar.