In a Facebook group about grammar, someone asked about politicians who are constantly starting sentences with look. It’s a pet peeve of mine!
There are several politicians and other notable people who are always starting sentences with look. I suppose it’s a little better than starting every answer with so.
But let’s be clear: Both can be maddening.
The original poster asked an interesting question. Since we’re talking about the spoken word, shouldn’t they use the word listen instead of look?
I offered my take, saying neither was correct.
Constantly beginning a sentence with either look or listen amounts to just using a crutch word for no good reason. Start the sentence with whatever immediately follows the offending word.
Someone immediately defended starting sentences with look or listen. She said that in public speaking, such “crutch words” can be “very useful in preventing people from tuning out from tedium.”
I can certainly imagine scenarios where a speaker would want to emphasize certain portions of a speech. But that generally happens toward the end of a passage where the speaker is about to make an important point. By all means, you can certainly validly emphasize such points.
That’s not what we’re talking about. We hear it every day on news programs. People begin the first sentence in answer to the first question with look. They haven’t reached a point worth ephasizing. Look (or listen) is only the first syllable they utter.
So I gave my response to the whole “preventing people from tuning out” suggestion:
“Perhaps that’s an indication that the speaker should work more energy into the speech rather than inserting meaningless words that become so overused to cause more annoyance than attention.”