The Blank Mind of Words

I am weaving to work out from under my pattern of going through long spats of time without writing anything but I noticed that when I do emerge with something I write in a flurry. This leads to me noticing in the editing process a lot of common contextually meaningless phrases that don’t do anything in the sentences. It also strikes me that I speak these phrases as well as I’ve been recording some of my unfiltered thoughts.

I’ve listened to a lot of sports talking heads in my life too and a lot of them lean HEAVILY on this type of fluff language and in some cases become notable catch phrases in a way (if you’re familiar think Stephen A. Smith and his 'you’re wrong and here’s why…")

When you write or talk, do you notice anything like this coming from you and finding the desire to go back and stamp it out to re-wire your brain of the stuff you un-thinkingly say? Does it matter to you at all or bother you in any way like it does to me? What are some examples for you?

Here’s the kinds of things I mean:

“here and there”, “I would say”, “in some respects”, “with all due respect”, “at best”, “for further clarification”

I started this thinking I had a good ten plus of these but now I’m wondering if this phenomenon exists in the quantity I think it does and if it does does it matter.

Cultural and/or personal filler phrases. Let’s talk em.

Edit: Moved this to Output. That’s where I originally intended it but put in KoP in error.


My gf made me aware that every time I talk to my dad on the phone I very frequently say “no doubt” when I agree with him on something. I don’t do this with anyone else. Couldn’t tell you why!

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in the utterly forgettable 2001 brad pitt/robert redford movie “Spy Game,” there is a scene where robert redford is talking on the phone, i think it’s one of those spy movie stereotype things where the person is telling him some vital information but his responses are deceptively neutral so no one else around him knows what’s going on, and he says something like “mmhmm… alright … sounds good” in this very specific cadence, and for like 10-15 years after seeing that movie i have noticed myself inadvertently copying it in almost every phone conversation i’ve ever had. but i feel like i eventually stopped because i can’t remember exactly how it goes anymore.


I definitely have a lot of Ums but I’m not sure what my filler phrases are off the top of my head. Normally my issue is more that I start 4 sentences at once and only finish one of them:

“I was thinking about - well, actually I read something - it was like something you said, remember - well, no it doesn’t matter, anyway I’m hungry”

I use vulgar words as a filler to allow me time to think but they’ve become such a part of my vernacular that I don’t realize I’m doing it anymore. I use “like”, “though”, “although”, “also”, and “as well” so much that I usually have to go back and edit them out or replace them with something else. I say “man” a ton, as well. I almost certainly got this tick from saying “aw man” when disappointed and aping “and you know this, MAN!” from Friday too much, but now I say it a lot at the end of my angry stock phrases (if my internet goes out, for example, I’ll almost always exclaim “What the fuck, man!?”) When I want to refer to a person who is a man, though, I’ll almost always say “guy”, not “man”, “man” in my vernacular is almost always an exclamation or some kind of intensifier, and rarely a noun.

I frequently trail sentences off with an “I don’t know” or “or something” if I’m either uncertain or don’t care enough to say more. I hate small talk, so I say “yeah”, “cool”, “rad”, “all right”, and “sure” a lot to get me through that shit quicker.

eta: “Much Obliged” is my stock filler end for an e-mail. It means absolutely nothing to me at this point with how frequently I’ve said it and signed off my e-mails with it, but now I feel uncomfortable saying less formal “Thanks”.

some verbal tics i can think of:

“I dunno, that’s weird” - said in response to something that seems either suspicious or stupid, but I’m not sure yet how to elaborate on why I think that

“You’re probably right” - when the person I am talking to is, with 99% certainty, correct, and I think I am wrong, but because it’s not literally confirmed that that person is right, I can’t bring myself to say “You are right.”

“In any case…” - me trying to correct from a tangent that I brought myself onto

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I constantly say ‘… if that makes any sense’ or ‘does that make sense?’ at the end of sentences.

I think that’s a good habit that inserts itself as a blank-filler. I and some of the designers I work with, particularly the ones used to giving long technical descriptions of problems, have picked this up as a status check-in


In informal speech I do this constantly and also in the first draft of anything I write. A lot of what I do when I proofread myself is go in and excise all the dead weight

Yeah I think it’s a habit I’ve developed from working on collaborative projects as well as teaching. Pausing for feedback is a good thing to do but I feel like I’m two steps away from ending my thoughts with


Yep, I have to force myself to not do it sometimes if I think they’re figuring me out

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I am sure I probably have some of these but I have become incapable of self reflection after seven months of isolated onanism, but I think I have more or less eliminated these from my normal vocabulary. Credit to a lot of experience orally conveying complicated information to people in the least amount of time.

Wait here’s one, I use “absolutely” too often (as an adverb, not a one-word response)

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I edit myself on a podcast I know them all.


I like adding tbqh or tbqhimo to my posts because they are, tbqh, rather ridiculous acronyms.

I often tempted to use tbqhief (“to be quite honest in everyone’s fact”) as well, but I usually remember that it never gained much traction beyond the “Nonstop Gaming” sub-forum on GameFAQs. Half the Google results for it embarrassing ~12-year-old posts back when I was active there, and so I become filled with shame and regret.