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    December 21, 2006


    Nancy Friedman

    Fascinating topic--and timely for me, because I recently attended a conference in which a British-born moderator laced his commentary with so many "kind-of's" and "sort-of's" that I gave up trying to count them. (A verbatim example: "I think a lot of the sort-of things we're sort-of seeing--they've basically got sort-of a lot of things on the table...a game of kind-of exclusion.") I noticed no such verbal tic, or conversational spacer, among the panelists of other nationalities (American and French). The British fellow, who I'm guessing was between 45 and 55, used "kind of" and "sort of" the way an 18-year-old American would use "like": as an all-purpose semantic glue. The overall effect was at first charming in a tentative, self-effacing way, and finally so annoying--like being drowned in a slow-moving flood of oatmeal--that I wanted to leap up onto the stage and throttle him.

    Giovanni Rodriguez

    Death by oatmeal. Love it.

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