My good buddy Jeff blogged about and I commented on Um and Uhs the other day.  Low and behold, the question comes up in class today:

“Alan, I see the value in eliminating non-words, and I see how to do it. But if I let one or a few slip, wouldn’t that be OK. I mean, we didn’t even notice our classmates and they had more than a few.

That’s a loaded question.  Of course the world won’t stop when a speaker utters a non-word.  But once we’ve decided they are OK, then the question becomes, “How many is OK?”  Perfection is possibly unreachable.  So why get hung up on it?

  • The best hitters do occasionally (often?) strike out.
  • The best Christians do occasionally (often?) sin (much to the delight of the athiests) — (Romans 6:1 seems to think this isn’t OK)
  • The best athiests do occasionally (often?) find themselves in an logical loop (much to the delight of the religious).
  • The best drivers do occasionally cut people off
  • The best speakers do occasionally utter words that have little or no meaning, or worse

But in each case, those that want to be the best share a common trait — they want perfection, even if they realistically do not think it will ever come.

Once we’ve decided that it’s OK, then there really isn’t anything to motivate us to get better.

Don’t tolerate habits that lead to ineffectual communication.

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