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The Usual Suspects of Language Pollution

Updated: Jan 15

The Way of Mindlessness

Language is the greatest invention of Human evolution and development: From grunts to words allowing us to convey meaning-making and abstractions from our deepest cognitions and corresponding emotions. I propose language is an ecology of consciousness. And just as nature’s ecology is polluted by toxins and trash, language is polluted by mindlessness.


As it relates to language, its pollutants surface as disfluencies, discordances, and vernaculars to fill gaps in the flow of thoughts and speech as well as affectations for inclusion in the latest sociocultural trends.

The reason these lexical fillers are analogous to pollutants in nature’s ecology is because they diminish the elegance and clarity of language.


Let’s expose the language pollutants and their effects on precise communication. The omnipresent filler “you know, ” is a disfluency (disruption of flow) as well as a discordance (confounding meaning). It fills the gap between the speed of thought and speech while voiding the meaning of the verb to know. Although the conversationalists do not take the discordance literality, “you know” is used as a meaningless filler. An act of mindlessness.


Other candidates for the pollutants' lexicon are “no problem” in place of words expressing gratitude, and “like” in place of the actual experience. While there are many more suspects, I will limit my critique to the biggest offenders:


A mindless conversation:

“You know, she looked at me and I thought, ‘like, what does she want, you know?’”

“Thanks for your help”  “No problem.”


A pristine conversation:

“She looked at me and I wondered what she wanted.”

“Thanks for your help.” “My pleasure.”


Does this entice you to remove pollutants from your language?

Language Pollutants

For more information read my bestseller The MindBody Code 

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