Showing posts sorted by relevance for query verbal tic. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query verbal tic. Sort by date Show all posts

30 December 2008

Verbal tics

If Barack Obama is copying Danny Williams’ economic thing-that-isn’t-a-strategy-but-gets-called-strategy-anyway, then it’s only a matter of time before someone claims that Caroline Kennedy is now aping the local trend.

The wannabe senator from New York is the subject of blog and media reports for her repeated use of “you know” in recent media interviews.

What we are talking about here is a verbal tic of the sort many people have.  Media trainers and public speaking coaches work diligently to get them out of their students’ speeches because um, they, ah, become, like, you know, distracting, right?  They are habits in some instances.  They are space fillers in other cases.  No matter the cause, they distract from the message or in some instances suggest the speaker is not as well educated and intelligent as he or she might actually be.

Kennedy reportedly used “you know” 138 times in the course of one short interview. There are several videos on youtube focusing on Kennedy’s verbal tic.

Some, like one at left, just string together all the “you knows”  - 46 to be exact - from a single five minute interview.

Others give the whole interview or a significant chunk of it to drive home the point another way.

Closer to home, Bond Papers noted some time ago a tendency the Premier has to use the “you know” tick.  There were 11 in a 42 second clip at the front end of a CBC interview with the majority being within the first 12 seconds. On that occasion, the Premier tossed in another of his favourite tics - “quite frankly” and added a “right” just for good measure.

To correct the problem of verbal tics one has to want to get rid of them.  No surprise, therefore, that the Premier continues to tic away, especially in his off-the- cuff remarks:

Night Line (October):

And, you know, there are issues that are very, very important to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and we look at the economy and we look at where the American economy is going and Minister Flaherty was on last week and the Prime Minister is out saying oh no, we don't have to worry in Canada, everything is fabulous, everything is wonderful. But, you know, we have to realize that, you know, we do have a direct link to that American economy and if that tanks at some point in time, then, you know, we are vulnerable.

Now that's not to say that, you know, there's going to be gloom and doom in Canada because Canada's fundamental are sound and I firmly believe that.

And on the other side of it, you know, from our own perspective, you know, our economy is strong, we're in a better position than we've ever been, we're also in a very good position now with the, you know, the international financial crisis that's underway. We now, for the first time in our lives, are in a bit of a financial bubble and that's a wonderful thing. We have that protection and the people of this province got the support of the provincial government.

You know, we've built a war chest and, as well, we've tried to move our debt down to get us in a good position so that if ever there was a very, very, very serious situation we'd have to take that debt back up again, but we'd have the ability to do it. But, you know, we've been really, very fiscally prudent and fiscally responsible.

So, you know, Newfoundland and Labrador is very much on the move and so, you know, I'm pleased with the position we're in and I do think we're in a favoured position, to be quite honest with you.

You will notice, as well, some of the Premier’s other verbal tics and mannerisms in those extracts as well.  First, the opening remarks are one giant run on sentence.  This is not a guy who speaks in sentences.  He just dumped a whole mass of verbiage out there in one big string.  Second, there’s the tendency to use “very” in a string one twos and threes, as if more than one added some appreciable extra emphasis. 

Lastly, there’s the “to be quite honest with you” at the end.  It’s akin to “nothing could be further from the truth,” except that in this case it isn’t used to deny an accusation.  This time the “honest” phrase is tossed in gratuitously, as if people might possibly be thinking he wasn’t honest enough before.  Now he is “quite” honest.

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, it is quite easy to total the instances of these verbal tics in transcripts, like the one for Danny Williams appearance at the Cameron Inquiry. He said “you know” as a verbal tic 270 times. There were only eight “quite franklys” and a handful of “to be honests”.

It’s that kind of frequency that makes “you know” stand out.

A verbal tick like that one stands out even more when it comes as part of a relatively short sentence like one of the Premier’s responses to a question at Cameron:  “You know, do we still know?”

If the answer had been known, the question wouldn’t have been asked.

You know?


03 March 2016

Serendipity do dah #nlpoli

Some people on da Twitter were talking about verbal tics like saying “ya know.”

One of ‘em asks if the other had counted Danny Williams’ penchant for them.

Yes, butts in yer humble e-scribbler who was not part of the original discussion:  Cameron inquiry.  270 in a four hour stint, plus eight “quite frankly”s. If anyone on the Internet had that kind of obscure information, it would be The Scribbler or labradore.

Ya knows, right?

So then, you know your humble e-scribbler had to check the record by searching on SRBP for all appearances of the phrase “verbal tic”  and the plural.

17 January 2009

Verbal Tic (2)

Who:  Bob Cadigan, president and chief executive officer of NOIA, the association representing oil and gas supply and service companies. [CBC ram audio file]

When:  January 14, 2009.

Interview:  With CBC radio’s Jeff Gilhooley about Chevron’s decision to defer drilling in the Orphan Basin.

Score:  19 “you knows” in a 4:00 minute interview, with the bulk occurring in the front end.


22 February 2009

Verbal tics (5) and wandering into a math minefield

Two things stand out from this scrum by the Premier and finance minister a little over a week ago. [CBC video link: “Premier Danny Williams and Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy respond to the latest from the nurses union. The union said Friday that it would not return to negotiations until its strike vote is completed.”]

First, Danny Williams utters only 11 of his now famous “you know” verbal tics in the entire nine minute scrum.  He racks up a mere four in the first two and a half minutes and only hits 10 by the end of four minutes.

Either he’s much more comfortable with this subject – the nurses’ labour negotiation – than he was with other subjects or he’s been doing some anti-tic practice in the past couple of weeks.

Second, finance minister Jerome Kennedy gets himself into a bit of a pickle when he brings up the projected deficit.  He puts the shortfall at about $500 million based on assumed production levels and assuming CDN$50 per barrel for oil and then adds on the $400 million from loss of the Equalization option.  We’ll grant him that even though it’s a bit of a fiction.

Then Kennedy starts down the dangerous road, mentioning the need to allow for “growth”.

How much growth?

Six per cent.


Or put in other terms about six times the rate of inflation.

That’s pretty typical for an administration that has been known to ratchet up spending by about 14% annually in some years.

So even with oil prices down, mines in limbo and mineral revenues down drastically, a thousand people out of work in central Newfoundland who knows what else, the government is actually planning to increase overall spending in 2009 by six per cent.

That alone would whack $400 million or so onto the deficit all by itself.

Looks like all that the federal changes to Equalization did was take away the convenient federal transfer that would have covered some of that planned unsustainable increase in public spending. Now they just have to stick it on the provincial Amex card.

But still, if you look at where Kennedy headed as he wandered into that mathematics minefield, we are looking at government booking a $1.2 billion deficit this year, the largest in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, before or since 1949. 

In fact, in one single budget, these guys sound like they are going to add more debt to the shoulders of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians than the entire debt millstone that sank the country in 1933-34.

If you go back and look at the assessment by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2004, the projected deficit for next year – based on the finance minister’s own numbers – will look worse than anything in that document.

That probably explains why Kennedy’s voice trails off at the end of his discussion of the coming deficit.  he realised what he’d said.