Friday, March 13, 1998 at 19:21:48
I first noticed this subject when I used to record the radio show of a local radio psychologist, Dr. Toni Grant. She used the "um", as i recaled, and I started noticing this. I started listening to her "um's", and was surprised at the quantity of them. I felt, unscientifically, that her "um's" were more important than the advice she gave her talk show callers. I didn't know why I felt that. It was just an instinctive thing on my part. She hasn't been on the radio for awhile, and I haven't thought much about "um's" and things like that -- until I came across your "Cool" site. It's nice to see that I was not the only person around who paid attention to "what was 'not' said".
I'm not sure if FPs can be regarded as more important than the message itself, but it is apparent that FPs sometimes communicate additional information to listeners--sometimes in contrast to the message itself! It is often presumed that overly hesitant speech by, say, a witness in court, is evidence of insincerity. Alternately, sometimes we show a lot of hesitation in order to pretend that we have more knowledge than we really do. For example:
Teacher: Johnny, who was president of the U.S at the beginning of World War II?
Johnny: uh... um, let's see, uh that was...Nixon?
Since I haven't heard Dr. Grant speak before I can't judge what might be the meaning of her FPs. What do you think?
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