Just finished an interesting book on speech disfluencies – Um: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean, by Michael Erard.
In one section, the author is talking about the two basic ways that people speak in everyday life, when no one is producing sentence after sentence of smooth, un-hiccuped prose. People either throw in “ums” and “ers,” or repeat individual words, while they wait for their brain to catch up with their mouth – or they will start a sentence, then, in mid-sentence, decide to take another tack and completely start over. Quoting Erard here:
I am such a total um/uh-er that I was astonished to find there’s this whole other way of stumbling through a conversation (though I’ll tell ya, I’m eavesdropping in public with great fascination these days).
So – which are you? This is obviously profoundly unscientific – but take a minute and act out telling someone about what you had for dinner last night. Do it mentally if you’re at work (or if your loved ones are in the immediate vicinity and easily freaked out by signs of mental illness), or out loud – it should be come clear within a couple of minutes which you are.