Help! I've noticed that over time as a family we become addicted to 'fillers' which are words or phrases we use that have no meaning in context and are simply to allow thinking time. Once pointed out these become very annoying.
The British Prime Minister has a long held habit of using the phrase "you know" in the middle of sentences and a recent short interview contained no fewer than 40 of them.
The one we're struggling with at present is beginning sentences with "well". We first noticed our 4 year old doing it and then someone pointed out she'd learnt it from us - and we realised we were the cause! Now we make a "Bzzt" noise every time someone starts a sentence with "well" in the hope that we can wean ourselves off it.

During a recent episode of Grey's Anatomy two characters managed four consecutive sentences beginning with "well" so perhaps that's where we got it.
Any other recovering wellaholics out there?
Tim
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Help! I've noticed that over time as a family we become addicted to 'fillers' which are words or phrases we ... four consecutive sentences beginning with "well" so perhaps that's where we got it. Any other recovering wellaholics out there? Tim

No, I'm quite well thank-you!
(snipped)
Help! I've noticed that over time as a family we become addicted to 'fillers' which are words or phrases we ... episode of Grey's Anatomy two characters managed four consecutive sentences beginning with "well" so.. Any other recovering wellaholics out there?

Well, I am not sure I am a wellaholic. However, I am sure rather than pay attention to a single word, I pay attention to every single word I use.
I note you overuse "the" and especially overuse "it" in your writings. You should add those two words to your list of words to buzz.

Our word "uh" is abused more often than "well" is abused. These are unconscious acts of language, just as is abuse of words such as "there," "that," "the" and "it" are unconscious acts.
Give attention to every single word you utter and you will not come across as being unconscious.
Purl Gurl
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The one we're struggling with at present is beginning sentences with "well". We first noticed our 4 year old doing it and then someone..

Give attention to every single word you utter and you will not come across as being unconscious.

Well, I don't usually agree with Purl Gurl, but, well, she has a point. The bullying of the 4 year old for not speaking "properly" makes you seem particularly obnoxious. Get over yourself!
Give attention to every single word you utter and you will not come across as being unconscious.

Well, I don't usually agree with Purl Gurl, but, well, she has a point. The bullying of the 4 year old for not speaking "properly" makes you seem particularly obnoxious. Get over yourself!

Do not cling to my coattails of greatness. Do not associate your words with mine. I adamantly disagree with your thoughts.

Original context for readers,
The one we're struggling with at present is beginning sentences with "well". We first noticed our 4 year old doing it and then someone pointed out she'd learnt it from us - and we realised we were the cause! Now we make a "Bzzt" noise every time someone starts a sentence with "well" in the hope that we can wean ourselves off it.

Tim and his girl's mother are NOT bullying their daughter. Both are applying their "corrective" measures to all in their family, equally. Tim and his wife display characteristics of excellent parents; they are actively involved in their girl's education which is commendable and this is an activity rarely displayed by parents.

I admire Tim and his wife for their efforts to provide their girl with a good upbringing.
Purl Gurl
I admire Tim and his wife for their efforts to provide their girl with a good upbringing.

Well, that makes me quite sure I was right! God help the child of an anal overcontrolling rules enthusiast. (I was one).
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Help! I've noticed that over time as a family we become addicted to 'fillers' which are words or phrases we ... managed four consecutive sentences beginning with "well" so perhaps that's where we got it. Any other recovering wellaholics out there?

I heard someone interviewed on an NPR program the other day who probably started every response in the
interview with "Well, ..." It was simultaneously
annoying and amusing.
I sometimes do it intentionally, with a an exaggerated emphasis on "well" and an exaggerated pause following it. In fact, with a small number of people I know well, I'll even begin a reply, "Well (pause), comma (pause), ...", the word "comma" actually being spoken. Some laugh, some just shake their heads in dismay.

I am far more irritated by fillers like "like". My six-year-old son already picked that up over a year ago, and I don't know how to break him of the habit. Sometimes it's a filler and sometimes it's a substitute for "said", e.g. "And I'm like, 'no way'." Sometimes it's a bit of both. It's always grating.
I have a colleague, someone I don't know well, who I think has some kind of speech impediment, probably stuttering. I think a speech therapist actually taught him to vocalize some verbal fillers as a means of not getting completely blocked. The first time I heard him on a conference call, I had to put the phone on mute so no one would hear me laughing. The guy said something along the lines of "And so we need to er-um-uh,
er-um-uh, boot the server..."
Give attention to every single word you utter and you will not come across as being unconscious.

Well, I don't usually agree with Purl Gurl, but, well, she has a point. The bullying of the 4 year old for not speaking "properly" makes you seem particularly obnoxious. Get over yourself!

What's "bullying" about trying to correct a sloppy speech habit? Did you fail to note the parents are also trying to break themselves of it, and acknowledged that their child picked it up from them?
What's "bullying" about trying to correct a sloppy speech habit?

What's "sloppy speech habit"-ish about it? You have claimed that it is, but that is merely your opinion about the matter. The practice may not, in fact, be a "sloppy speech habit" at all. Thinking it is doesn't make it so. The fact that it occurs universally in human language (non-fluency features of this sort, not just specifically "Well") must indicate something about it, something that should make you pause, reserve prejudiced condemnation for a second or two, and think to yourself "Maybe it's serving some actual function that I am unaware of."
And, yes, it does seem to be serving some function other than that which is contained only in the words you speak. Language is not just a code or a mathematical equation that needs to be solved; it's a social action, a set of behaviours between people.

"Well" can act as a pause for the person to collect their thoughts and have time to think. This might not seem like a lot of time to think, but in the perspective of how much time you normally have to process and produce a spoken sentence, it's almost an eternity.

A social use of "well" (and "like") is as a politeness strategy, a way of distancing one thing from another (subject from predicate; the purpose for saying the sentence (often referred to as the "illoctionary act/foce" of the sentence) from the person saying it; etc). Why do you think, in English, the first sentence below is considered polite and the second one rude?

1. Excuse me, would you be so kind as to close the window?
2. Shut the window.It's because it employs, among other things, the "distancing" politeness strategy. The request comes at the end of a long sequence of words, thus softening it and as a result making it sound more polite. The same sometimes applies for those "sloppy speech habits" you mention.

Just today, I found myself using such a strategy to soften something I had to say and reading this thread now made me realize what I had done.
I was on the telephone to someone who was asking me to do something (the details don't matter). It was something that I was unable to do right then and the person making the request was someone I respected. To bluntly say "No, I can't do that" would have been rude, unfriendly, unsociable. What I did say was "Well, no, because that's... like... impossible right now." It softened the refusal. It wasn't a "sloppy speech habit" at all; it was a distancing measure to add an extra social dimension to what I had said on top of the actual words, syntax, and semantics of what I had said.
There is more to language than just words. Pinned to a piece of paper, sure, the words might seem to be all that exists, but in reality in actual communication between living people language is more like a well-coordinated dance with many steps, patterns, and rhythms that keep it all together. Break step and watch the way that you will rub people the wrong way.

johnF
"In fact, the belief that neurophysiology is even relevant to the functioning of the mind is just a hypothesis."
Language and Thought , Noam Chomsky (1993)
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