My language skills are pretty limited considering I claim to make a living as an editor, according to my tax returns. That I can’t spell was established a million years ago. It’s a little frustrating these days when the foreigners I work with and date spell English words better than I do, but since I literally own The Bad Speller’s Dictionary, it’s not really a surprise.
Maybe that’s why I tend to stick with the vocabulary words I know. There are three words that I use to start 90% of my sentences, spoken, written, fragmented or however else they tumble out.
If I had to fill out a Proust Questionnaire about the pillars of my speech, this is what I’d write.
Anyway: most frequently used in casual conversation among friends, as if I’m continuing a never ending conversation. It can also be used on its own, just a word spoken outloud, while nodding my head when I have nothing else to say. You might ask, “ ‘Anyway….’ What?” To which I’d say, “Nothing. Just ‘Anyway’.” And you would again wonder why I get paid so much to butcher the English language in a professional setting.
So: when you hear this word, just play along and talk back to me. I use it to start sentences that I’ve racked my brain to find when the conversation has flatlined. Other people do this, too, as in the “So, how ‘bout them Yankees,” or “So, seen any good movies lately,” conversations. But I’ll also use it to start logical conversations that somehow can feel unnatural, such as “So, happy birthday.” Why didn’t I just say “Happy birthday,”? I didn’t want to startled you with my abruptness.
Well: shit is about to go down. This is the buffer word I use before delivering bad news. I mostly use it at work in sentences that start out, “Well, I disagree,” or “Well, actually that’s wrong.” In the grand scheme of things, the bad news I’m delivering is pretty minor. But I can see myself ramping it up a notch and saying “Well, China is taking over America,” or “Well, dolphins have finally learned how to use computers and will soon be putting us in zoos.”