The…the…the… intellectual stammer: Listening to

The…the…the… intellectual stammer
: Listening to a New Yorker writer on NPR this afternoon, I hear a speech pattern I hear often on that network, always from intellectuals, often from writers. They don’t say “like, y’know.” They don’t say “duuude.” But they do tend to fill the dead air brought on by thought by repeating a word or syllable with an irritating frequency, as if the repetition emphasizes their thought as mere silence could not. Often, the word is “the” and I’ve heard it repeated three, four, even as many as a dozen times: “The… the… the… the… problem with this…. this… this… thinking is…” This is not stuttering; I wouldn’t make fun of that (unless listening to Howard Stern); this is an affectation and I wonder how it became so universal among the overeducated. They also love to say “sort of,” a meaningless phrase anyway that is inserted without any attempt at meaning; it is merely packing peanuts for thoughts. Drives me… me… me…. nuts.