... about linguistic "fillers". I have just walked through central Oxford with a horrible and noisy gaggle of screeching little girls just behind me carrying on about how few "boys" of their "year" were "good-looking" and with the filler "like" several times in each sentence - even the horrendous construction "he was like ..." for "he said ...". The noise suddenly abated as I passed Brasenose, so I suspect that is the college which needs seriously to revise its entrance procedures. There are times when I do feel I understand what drives men to homosexuality.
But girls are not the only culprits. In last week's radio programme by Lord Bragg (a weekly seminar called "In our Time", for colonial readers), on the politics of the death of Elizabeth Tudor, one of three participating dons was a Cambridge professor whose name now eludes me. His filler was "y'know", and his filler-frequency was, if anything, greater than that of those women undergraduates at Brasenose. I think I understand this particular filler; it is often used by 'charismatic' teachers who affect a 'spontaneous' style of delivery in which everything is so breathlessly and elaborately intimate, informal and unpompous that few sentences are so tedious as to procede grammatically to a main verb because the speaker continually charges off down some exciting sideroad. This sort of academic is often surrounded by young and equally breathless female groupies, so perhaps there is a link with the Brasenose phenomenon.
Such linguistic usage can't be the prescriptive patois of allCambridge-educated Tudor historians, because Professor Tighe wouldn't use it if his life depended on it.