Frankly, my dear: I believed it when Rhett said it, but never again
I just had to tweet this the other day. I couldn’t say this particular thought out loud because I was in a meeting in which someone was doing this very thing: starting sentence after sentence with the word “Frankly.”
Now, this particular person is actually someone I do believe is frank in these statements. It’s just a verbal tic.
But I have another acquaintance who says it quite often and whom I know to be not entirely truthful at times. I’m talking about big dishonesty—cheat-on-your-spouse-lie-to-your-friend dishonesty—not spare-my-feelings-about-how-this-outfit-really-looks-on-me tactful misdirection: “What an unusual shade of brown!”
When the latter person starts a sentence with “Frankly” or “Honestly” (which happens multiple times in any one conversation) it’s all I can do to keep from rolling my eyes or blurting out, “Really?”
For the record, I also notice other verbal repetitions, such as teenagers overusing “like.” Just ask my two teen daughters, who don’t overuse it because when they started down that road, I repeated “like!” every time they said it for a while. Worked like a charm, although I sounded as if I had the hiccups. (I taught them not to use “like” when you mean “as if” or “such as,” too.)
We got through that phase rather successfully. I, like, notice it when other people, like, overuse “like,” but it doesn’t raise my hackles the way “frankly” and “honestly” do. (Although I do think it sounds as if the person needs some intellectual booster shots if it, like, happens multiple times in back-to-back sentences.)
My theory: There is something about asserting one’s truthfulness specifically that makes me notice—and question—the sincerity of the word being overused. Frankly, honestly, methinks the lady doth protest too much.