Ostomy Memories of Speech Idiosyncrasy


MOST MORNINGS, AFTER MY EARLY WALK AND AFTER BREAKFAST, I walk the neighborhood with my friend Vince, who lives around the corner at the farthest end of our dead end. His house, you might say, is deader than mine. He has an unusual speech mannerism that I am slowly getting used to; in a thirty-minute walk, he will use the term “in any event” at least eight times. I take this to be the outward sign of an educated man, since he is a retired Medieval literature professor (Chaucer, et al). Most of us would say “at any rate,” but he uses the professorial vernacular. Similarly, I knew a judge once, an overly garrulous fellow, whose speech was much too laden with the sloppy term “you know.” I once sat in his courtroom for an hour and kept count: forty-three “you know”s from the bench. I must not have had much to do that day. Then there is my dear spouse, whose home office is next to mine, and who spends an undue amount of time on the telephone dealing with feral cat related problems. Her favorite transitional word during these conversations seems to be “anyway“ as in “so anyway, then we blah blah blah.” For the record, I am not complaining about these speech idiosyncrasies. I have my own issues, as I am needlessly bilingual: English and profanity.


Hello HenryM.
Thank you for another astute observation. I often smile at the utterances that have replaced a contemplative silence before someone speaks. It used to be things like um and aah, but as you have rightly noticed, people are now using a number of different space-fillers while they compose their thoughts before speaking them.
One of the more ‘fashionable’ expressions over here at the moment is ‘SO’ - usually followed by a pause to collect their thoughts further before saying whatever it is they wish to say. This expression might have gone unnoticed if it was not for the phenomenon of ‘so’ many people adopting the strategy.
Like you, I am not offended or against these verbal expressions, which seem to be a substitution for a ‘pause’ before speaking.
After all, it is probably no worse than my own preferred option of not uttering anything until completely confident and ready to converse. This technique is often misinterpreted as a non-verbal communication through facial expression, which is notoriously hard for other’s to ‘read’.
Sometimes. I ease any tension by simply stating that I need time to think about what has previously been said before I can give my considered reply. Many times, I simply don’t respond at all at the time, which doesn’t facilitate a conversational dialogue. (I am hopeless in company when the conversation is not stimulating) However, I have developed a technique of my own to stimulate ‘constructive conversations’ by asking questions. There is no need for a pause or any infilling with superfluous words because I am well-practiced in this technique and know exactly what I am doing and saying. I will quite often respond at some later date with a rhyme, which will indicate that I had been interested enough to listen and think about what was being said by someone else.
Best wishes


‘Constructive conversations’ say.
So much more than others say.
A special method to converse.
That I will now portray in verse.

‘Constructive’ means it builds upon.
Foundations that are sound and strong.
Asking questions to produce.
Conversations of some use.

Comprehensive and extensive.
They’re emotionally intensive.
With an underlying notion.
To tame your sore and raw emotion.

When pressure makes you want to burst.
Emotions can be at their worst.
It’s then constructive talking can.
Help you think and help you plan.

All those things that make you frown.
And everything that drags you down.
All those things that bother you.
Can be resolved by talking through.

I don’t mean just with idle chat.
You won’t get far with talk like that.
To deal with things effectively.
You need to talk ‘constructively’.

Educe everything that’s negative.
Then counter with the positive.
Surprises have a job to hide.
When you examine every side.

Ask each question one by one.
Use your own answers as they come.
Let your imagination flow.
Then watch your conversation grow.

Write one thought down and then the next.
I find it helps to keep the text.
As I refer to what I’ve said.
More thoughts will spring into my head.

‘Constructive’ conversing clarifies.
All my questions and replies.
And as my conversations end.
Clarity begins my friend.

                                     B. Withers 2011
(in: ‘A Thesis on Constructive Conversations Inversed.’ 2012)

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Reply to Bill

Your strategy for good conversation still requires a certain amount of imagination in the other party.

Which is most times, not there... nice try though!

Reply to Bill

To me, the most irritating verbal punctuation is the overused word LIKE... as in, I was, like, just walking along... 


I'm interested in watching the person's face that tells me more than any words can. I have to admit, I think my worst saying is when someone tells you something and the person then says "shut up". Another one is when you tell someone bad news, such as someone has died or is seriously ill. They turn back and say, "Are you joking? Why in the world would someone joke about that?" Xx

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Past Member

Well, Henry, you've done it again. Nice one, Bill, and yes, Caz....totally weird!! One situation y'all got me thinking about is a non-response when I thought I'd give up a whole paragraph of speech.

The Pregnant Pause that doesn't actually deliver. I'm listening to someone carefully and I get inspiration for a perfect comeback/response. The speaker seems, several times, to be at the end of their monologue and I get that intake of breath, ready to deliver...False Alarm, I breathe again. Next false ending, same thing. Finally, the end of the monologue is reached and again my sharp intake of breath has fueled up my lungs to keep my mouth running. The others get the vibe that I'm about to contribute to the chat with something really wise. In that moment between the intake of Lung Fuel and getting out the first word, I realize that what I was about to contribute became totally irrelevant and really a bit stupid. While I waited to jump in, someone had shot down my contribution to great effect while I was having my pregnant pause several times over. So I stand there with a puffed-up chest full of speaking fuel and nothing to say except to grin awkwardly. Better to stay silent and look like a fool than open one's mouth and confirm it!! A wise saying indeed. So like the failed landing having to dump fuel in the ocean, my mouth just opens and all that comes out is a gallon of air followed by a guffaw (half laugh, half cry for mercy) before retreating to the bathroom.

Never being great at small talk, it has always been a minefield for me, so I avoid it whenever possible. This is why I prefer writing, editing is always an option.

My brother, with whom I am house sharing at the moment in California, is an attorney. He rarely utters a word that has not been analyzed and vetted in his mind before it escapes his mouth. This is a perfect strategy for the law business where an errant word can literally sink the ship (never speak in elevators, you never know who those other people are or when and in what circumstance you will encounter them again...not even "nice weather we're having," it just opens the door to potential disaster...stay stum!!). A lawyer's considered response to many things is "...Ummm..." and a nod.

As lawyers go, he is one of the good guys and actually believes in what he does, helping otherwise broken or helpless clients. I'm proud of him for all the good he has done.

Reply to HenryM

'Like', do you mean 'like', 'like'  the 'like' at the bottom of this page which I 'like just ticked on 'like'?

Past Member

My response to my good-humored Kitty when she told me in a text that she loved me was my tongue-in-cheek text in return saying, "I like you too," with a smiley face. I had actually typed, "I lick you too"...don't forget the ice cream," she wrote back. That's one reason I loved Kitty so much, her serious sense of fun and enjoying every minute of her time. So we laughed and had a scoop of ice cream every night, cuddled up on the couch. Now those moments really were my idea of heaven, and if there is some version of heaven for the good souls we lose, I know Kitty is having her scoop of ice cream waiting for my foot massage.


Hi Henry, it is interesting how people are uncomfortable with the small silences that crop up during speech, and feel a need to fill them. Even people who are known for being great communicators are guilty of this. Obama, who I have great respect for and love to listen to, peppers his speech with "ahs". Our own Prime Minister, Trudeau, has the same habit. I have found myself counting the number of "you knows" too, and some of the worst offenders are professional sports players and coaches. It's so distracting at times that I fail to even absorb the content of what they are saying. This is fine though, as I'm bored to tears by most sports anyway!

As for starting a statement or question with "So", I have adopted this tactic when talking to my husband, and it's intentional. He is getting increasingly hard of hearing, and I often have to repeat myself. When I start by saying "So" followed by a pause, he gets the message that I'm about to say something, and he tunes in. It works like a charm!


Past Member
Reply to HenryM

To me, the most irritating verbal punctuation is the overused word "like"....as in....

I pressed "like" because I read it .... AND.... not because I liked it

Just sayin'....

Potato or potatoe

Tomato or tomada

Or is it, "Just saying"?....


I watch Judge Judy on TV and she calls people out a lot of times for using the word "like" when they are talking. She says, "I don't want to hear that word again." It is surprising how many times they slip up and say it again. It is like they can't talk without using it.


Lol, several times I conversed with a friend's husband years ago. He talked so slowly, I wanted to reach in and pull the words out of him. He was also a tepid man, neither hot nor cold, but he believed himself to be quite clever and cocky. I yawned a lot when he would draw out a story and the punch line is a mile down the road... Carol.B

Reply to delgrl525

Hello Terry.

I appreciate your technique for attracting your husband's attention. There is of course, another perspective on dialogue, and that is the one from whoever is supposed to be listening.

My wife thinks that I am hard of hearing and therefore do not listen to much of what she says. However, she tends to talk to anything and everything continuously (loud, but not so loud as to be sensibly audible to an audience),  simply saying whatever is on her mind at the time. None of this has any relevance to me and she does not expect me to be listening. However, every now and then, in mid-sentence, she will turn to me and accuse me of 'not listening'. My response is to ask if she was now talking to me! If so, she would get my full attention. One of the other side-effects of talking to one's-self is that there is no imperative to speak loudly enough for anyone else to hear clearly. This becomes a habit, which spills over into the speach patterns when my wife talks directly to me. 

I have shared the story with my wife about one of my elderly ex-clients and I''ll relay it to you :  This elderly lady used to have a ancient cows-horn for a hearing aid. When she held it in her ear and pointed it toward you, you knew she was listening. When she put it down or faced the opening away, you knew that she could no longer hear you. I always felt this was a very effective 'communication' aid, as it sent a clear message to the speaker. 

When my wife tells me I should get a hearing aid, I remind her of this lady, and indicate that if and when I resort to a hearing aid, this is the one I would probably opt for! 

Alternatively, I could stick these modern earpieces into my ears, that young people listen to their radios and phones with. However, for the majority of the time they appear to be 'deaf' to the outside world, so I am not sure that this would resolve the problem of precisely what is being listened to. 

Best wishes


Best wishes


Reply to lovely

I, like, totally know what you mean!!

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