Filled Pause Use and (non)Intelligence

[This post was written for a blog I started in 2007 but discontinued soon after. Since that blog no longer exists and the content is relevant here, I've uploaded it here with its original time stamp.]

Ed Norton (Art Carney) in The HoneymoonersA stock character in much of the entertainment world is the none-too-bright sidekick of a main character. While there are many formulas for this dimwit, one of the most common features in this stereotype is slow speech with lots of long, drawn-out filled pauses. A classic example—perhaps an archetypal example—is Art Carney's Ed Norton (pictured at right) from The Honeymooners. Other examples abound: Edgar Bergen's Mortimer Snerd, Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) in Taxi, Arnold Horshack (Ron Palillo) in Welcome Back, Kotter, and George Utley (Tom Poston) in Newhart as well as numerous minor characters whose names few would recognize.

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