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Verbal Tic / Literature

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  • Nancy from Pollyanna has a penchant for repeating what she said twice at the end of the sentence, she does, she does. Another verbal tic of hers is "My stars and stockings".
  • Both a Fauxreigner, "Gunther" and "Madame Lulu" from A Series of Unfortunate Events say "please" in almost every sentence.
  • Jess Ferret from Margaret Mahy's Alchemy really loves playing with words, almost to the point of it becoming a tic.
    You’d only be wasting your time, when you could be out tasting your wine.
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  • Sparhawk from The Elenium calls anyone he didn't know very well as "neighbor." He says he's just trying to be friendly. When asked why he doesn't just call them friend, he says that they aren't actually his friend yet, so he doesn't know if he'll have to kill them at some point.
  • Sartain Stradius from Felsic Current, says "See" at the beginning of sentences, or at the end, or after a comma. Anywhere. And often, see.
  • Mariana from Icarus Phaethon's Goodbye, Mr. Descartes, with her idiosyncratic habit of beginning her sentences with "Aha".
  • Padfoot in Summerland interjects his chuckle, described as paper dry, into almost everything he says.
  • Hasimir Fenring of Frank Herbert's Dune tends to pepper his dialog with phrases such as "hmmmm" and "hmmmm-aaah" for no apparent reason. However, this is actually a plot point - Fenring and his wife have a private code disguised as humming, allowing them to hide a conversation with one another in the midst of an overt conversation with someone else. However, it sounds like a verbal tic to other characters.
  • Redwall:
    • The bally hares, wot!
    • Asssssssmodeussssss the sssnake alssso hasss the odd habit of hissssssing hisss own name between sssentencesss... *Assssssmodeussssssss*... Ego issssssuesss?
    • Asssssssmodeussssss' dessscendant, Balissssss, doesss the sssame thing. Balisssssssss...
    • The bats have spent so long living in caves that they're now in the habit of providing their own echo, echo, echo ...
    • Friar Bellows. Good, good.
    • "I Am The Law"
    • An' all dem molers, bo hurr
    • This is just grand- Gurgan Spearback, as well as a tribe of hedgehogs near Martin's old home in the north.
  • The Paul Jennings short story "Without a Shirt" concerns a kid who can't speak without ending his sentences with the titular phrase.
  • Holden Caulfield thought what he'd do was, he that that he'd have a few. He really does.
  • Desperation had "Sherrif" Collie Entragian who had a habit of adding "TAK!" to the end of random sentences. He was Possessed by the Ultimate Evil at the time
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  • The Dark Tower, especially in book five. Say thankya and hear me well.
  • Anne of Green Gables,
    • Rachel Lynde, that's what.
  • From Discworld:
    • Carcer Dun of Night Watch Discworld is arguably one of these - he punctuates his speech with an "irritatingly patronising chortle", which is always rendered in the text as "haha." We also have Captain Tilden, what. And Snouty, hnah. Captain Swing also exhibits afunnyway...of speaking.
    • Brother Nhumrod of Small Gods has a habit of repeating the last few words of the previous speaker. Many of Terry Pratchett's characters (especially his villains) have this sort of verbal tic, whether by the in-sertion of mispla-ced pauses orbyhaving... the speedof the... words be . . . curiouslyrandom or just by using a lot of —ing Unusual Euphemisms.
    • And E-Edward D-D'eath, and--aha, aha--Dragon King of Arms.
    • In The Fifth Elephant, Inigo Skimmer has a habit of saying "mmm", "mmhm", or some variant thereof every few words.
    • Soul Music: Mr. Clete's mirthless laugh: "Hat hat hat."
    • The Truth: Mr. Tulip's habit of dropping "—ing" into his sentences turns out to be this when it's revealed he really is just saying "--ing".
    • In Snuff, Lord Rust has picked up a habit of adding "what" to the end of sentences. It annoys Vimes greatly.
  • In the third book of The Chronicles of Narnia, it was established that Calormenes always follow any mention of the Tisroc note  with the phrase "May he live forever", usually rendered in parentheses to indicate just how unconscious it is. When talking horse Bree omits this little phrase, the protagonist rather nervously calls him on it, to which the horse replies: "Why should I say that, when he won't live forever and I don't want him to anyway?"
  • Professor Umbridge in Harry Potter frequently clears her throat (usually to interrupt someone), rendered as "hem hem." And then there's Ron's "Bloody hell!" note 
  • Gollum in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In this case, the character is actually named after his catchphrase. He also addresses his words to the Precccioussssss frequently.
  • Bonzo Madrid of Ender's Game, sabe?
  • Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court has the narrator give Sandy a suggestion of giving one of the characters in her tale a verbal tic of saying "bejabbers," to help him know who's talking.
  • Jacob Two-Two, because he has two brothers and two sisters and two parents, yes, two brothers, two sisters, and two parents, says everything twice. He says everything two times. Nobody ever hears him the first time. No, nobody ever hears him the first time.
  • Offscreen, in Spider Robinson's novel Stardance: the narrator mentions a character who unthinkingly replies "There you go" to everything anyone says. By the end of their acquaintance, the narrator is considering dumping him out an airlock. "There he goes, I kept thinking, there he goes ... "
  • Shirley Jackson, in her loosely autobiographical Raising Demons, describes her daughter Sally going through a phase, at about four, where she repeated the key word in every sentence: "Well, I told Amy's mother that I did not have any breakfast, breakfast, because my mommy did not wake up and give it to me, mommy. And Amy's mother said I was a poor baby, baby, and she gave me cereal and fruit, cereal, and she said there, dear, and she gave me chocolate milk, and I did remember to say thank you, remember." (Jackson was gifted at capturing the verbal tics of small children's speech: "You bad bad webbis.")
  • Blagden, the white raven from the Inheritance Cycle, frequently yells, "Wyrda!" (which means "fate" in the Ancient Language).
  • In The D Case, the narrator points out that Jules Maigret even pauses mid-sentence to puff at his pipe during a telepathic conversation.
  • Walder Frey in A Song of Ice and Fire often makes a sound somewhere between a laugh and a grunt: "Heh".
    • Also Hodor, hodor. It's the only word he knows, hodor, like Gollum above he is actually named after this, his real name being Walder.
  • Kenneth 'Type of Thing' Hindle in The Pale King.
  • J.R.Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood character, Vishous tends to substitute other words with, "true" or otherwise use the word as a sentence-closer; "You've got my back, true?" or "We'll get this done, true."
  • John Ringo's Poertena from the Prince Roger series (co-written with David Weber. And later his expy as Portana into Ringo's Into the Looking Glass Series, both of which frequently use the Unusual Euphemism "Pock".
  • Hallo, I say, Bertie Wooster has millions of these, don't you know, what? Right ho! (On a lesser level, there's Jeeves, who manages to interject a respectful "sir" into nearly every line he says.)
  • Mistress Coyle of Chaos Walking ends almost all her sentences the same way, my girl.
  • Jay Gatsby has a interesting one, old sport.
  • K. A. Applegate seems to like using this trope for a very specific type of character. In Animorphs David has a tendency to say the name of the person he's talking to several times in a single conversation, usually when he's trying to be threatening. Later in Applegate's second series Everworld, David's Expy Senna exhibits a very similar tic.
    • Ax, an Andalite, is telepathic, has no mouth in his normal form and is a bit of a Sense Freak, so whenever he morphs into a human he starts playing with his sounds. Ownds. Suh-OWND-zzz.
  • Every time the glass cat in The Patchwork Girl of OZ mentions its pink brains, the phrase "you can see 'em work!" quickly follows, as the cat loves to brag about them.
  • Chronicles of Prydain: Gurgi will add 'ing' to nounds like "Smitings and bitings" or "Sneakings and peekings."
  • Dojango Roze from the Garrett, P.I. novels is actually a good example, because he actually says his favorite word an awful lot, actually.
  • Wasp: Sirians (an alien race) have a tendency to occasionally add "hi?" at the end of questions, especially when irritated or menacing.
  • In Midnight’s Children, Naseem gains a tendency to pepper her sentences with "whatsitsname" after her marriage. Saleem speculates:
    I don't know how my grandmother came to adopt the term whatsitsname as her lietmotif, but as the years passed it invaded her sentences more and more often. I like to think of it as an unconscious cry for help... as a seriously-meant question. [Naseem] was giving us a hint that, for all her presence and bulk, she was adrift in the universe. She didn't know, you see, what it was called.
  • To be blunt, the Rat in Hear the Wind Sing.
  • Keri the Pakhar in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Legacy and the New Series Adventures novel Big Bang Generation, yeah?
  • In A Confederacy of Dunces, Jones (who is a bit of a Jive Turkey) interlards his sentences with exclamations of "Ooo-wee" and "Woah!"
  • From the Horatio Hornblower novels The Happy Return to Flying Colours, Hornblower has a penchant of answering any remarks addressed to him with "ha, h'm." When he says this to Lady Barbara, she instantly pegs it as a 'useful noncomittal sound' which he uses to avoid expressing emotion or getting chatty. Although she apologizes on realizing she's broken a shield of his, when they actually marry she evidently feels free enough to tease him until he stops doing it. When he unconsciously falls back on it in The Commodore, he's so pleased with himself for rediscovering it that he drags it out for several seconds while talking with an unfortunate junior officer.
  • Downplayed in "Clockpunk and the Vitalizer": Clockpunk twice says phrases three times in a row when stressed, like her Come on come on COME ON.
  • Tailchaser's Song:
    • Squirrels repeat words a lot. They are called "Rikchikchik" after all.
    • The creepy, hairless Toothguard cats slither in their speech, like snakes.
  • North To Benjamin: The wolf Edgar and Benjamin encounter on their way to Victoria in West Dawson seems to have a habit of saying some words three times in a row.
  • In Goodbye, Mr. Chips, as Chips gets older he makes many pauses punctuated with an "umph" in his speech.
  • Timmy in Sea Change 2016 seems to stutter on some of his words.
  • Oop North author Catherine Cookson's characters tend to repeat themselves. Oh, aye, they repeat themselves.


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