My wife and I recently had plans to leave our house earlier than usual for a Sunday morning. As I went upstairs to shower, I turned back toward her and said, “Let’s try to aim to leave around 7:30.”
As soon as I said that, I knew there would be no chance of us leaving at 7:30. I had heard my own words, which packed three hedge words into a single short sentence.
That choice of words suggested to me that I wasn’t particularly committed to my own idea (we ended up leaving closer to 7:50). It made me think about all of the times I hear speakers use hedge words—or their kissing cousin, words of apology.
I often hear speakers using these types of phrases:
“I’m just going to take a minute to tell you about….”
“Real quickly, I’ll explain why…”
“I’m sorry if you’ve heard this before, but…”