About the Colony

Getting tired of the pregnant pause

Special to The TribuneNovember 18, 2013 

Lon Allan


Remember how we describe something that’s really irritable to being like fingernails scratching down a blackboard? Many young people today probably don’t use the reference because they haven’t even seen a blackboard. Schools today have whiteboards.

I’m growing increasingly irritated with the “pregnant pause.”

You know, a dramatic pause in the dialogue that builds tension or anxiety in the theatergoer. It suggests that what follows is “rich in significance or implication,” or what comes next is “weighty or meaningful,” according to my more than 40-year-old Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. If I were savvier, I’d have looked it up on Wikipedia. Webster’s even adds that the pause is “mentally fertile” and “full of meaning” such as a “silence.”

Like many literary and dramatic devices, the pregnant pause has become an irritant, especially in the television shows I tend to watch.

From this moment on, I’ll just refer to it as the “pause.”

I don’t watch the shows that pick out future recording artists, but I have caught the pause in use to announce winners and losers when I couldn’t change the channel fast enough. My wife and I do tend to watch a dancing competition and must sit through the over-use of the pause in announcing winners and who is being kicked out the door.

With so much reality television, the pause has become a regularly over-used staple.

What bothers me is that the pause is creeping into shows where it doesn’t belong, such as house-hunting shows where a couple has to pick from three potential homes, or even on guys who go through your barn looking for treasures. Is it really necessary for the artificially dramatized moment of silence to be used for how much an item will cost or sell for?

I think not.

Television news borders on the use as commentators say something like, “… a body was found in an abandoned shack” and then add, “We’ll find out why right after this message.” Often TV news keeps hyping the opening teaser to make you watch the other dribble presented as real news.

If it is that important to be on the news in the first place, tell me now.

If the trend doesn’t die of a natural death soon, I may have to …

Lon Allan's column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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