‘However,’ ‘indeed,’ and other throat-clearing words that sully writing

It’s time to eliminate verbal tics that clog communication and vex editors.

“However … ” he begins, and the audience — even those who have heard the bit a dozen times before — crack up.

When the good professor does it, it’s amusing. When writers engage in this sort of verbal throat-clearing, it’s maddening.

“To be sure” a writer might offer, for emphasis or as a segue, or — most likely — because he read it in someone else’s analysis and thought it sounded authoritative. Wrong. It’s bilge. Stop wasting my time.

“Indeed … ” is another affectation, a written tic akin to the spoken “ya know” and “like” that taint the American discourse like grains of sand on your boardwalk frankfurter.

Another blight is “In fact,” which has the added effect of calling into question as nonfactual all that went before — not negating it outright, just raising that little specter of doubt about the verity and sincerity of what came before. One might as well say: “Everything up until now has been absolute b.s.; or maybe it wasn’t.”

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