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Is There, Umm, A Way to, Uh, Stop, Umm, Saying, You Know, Filler Words?

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Lorraine in Syracuse, New York, asks for tips for breaking the habit of saying You know. These linguistic self-interruptions are called disfluencies. You’ll improve your speaking by making sure you know your topic well and are clear about what you wish to say. Also, don’t be afraid to pause and take a breath. Especially when we’re nervous, we feel compelled to fill every silence, and that’s simply not necessary. In the art world, a similar compulsion to fill in every gap is called horror vacui, or “fear of empty spaces.” This is part of a complete episode.

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