To be Honest With You …

Certain phrases have snaked their way into our personal and
professional discourse. Like seasonal allergies or cellulite, they appear and
are nearly impossible to cure. But unlike seasonal allergies or cellulite, most
people don’t notice their “linguistic tics.” Allergy or cellulite sufferers
fight their afflictions with everything they can afford; but those who have
fallen prey to senseless phrases are probably unaware and, even worse, don’t
see all the hoopla I’m about to make (if you call blogging about this a “hoopla”).

I’ve had a love affair with language as far back as I can recall, so I have a hard time just  ignoring these peculiar phrases that have become conventional. Here are just a  few conversational crimes on the top of my list:

  1. “You may or may not know this…” Well, that just about covers whether you have the “Intel,” doesn’t it? Some variation  of “may or may not” comes up a lot. “This may or may not be true.” Talk about covering your ass! “It may or may not happen.” I feel like I can make firm plans with that piece of information. “May or may not” is not helpful in any conversation—it says that everything is possible so it communicates nothing helpful.
  2. “Yeah, no…I’d love to go to the movies.” Which is it? Do you want to go or don’t you? “Yeah, no,” if you haven’t noticed, starts a lot of sentences these days—and not just among young people (anyone 25 years younger than me). People my age say it; people 10 years younger than me say it. Politicians, teachers, television interviewers, you name it; people are “yeah/no-ing” all over the  place. We live in a very confusing world, and now we are subconsciously confusing each other by saying both yes and no to each other. “Yeah, no, I really like you.” “Yeah, no, I finished my homework 2 hours ago.” “Yeah, no, I think a committee on government ethics is a good idea.”
  3. “To be honest with you…” or some variation on the theme is used by friends, family, sales people, and public figures of  all varieties (entertainment and political). Think about this one. You are having a conversation or listening to a speech. Then, you hear, “Well, to be honest with you …” What does that mean? “Listen up, I’m going to start telling you the truth now!”? What’s the point of saying “to be honest with you” unless you are finally shifting into honesty-mode after cruising along in dishonesty mode? I often reply, “Thanks for finally being honest.”

If you read these saw yourself in one or all of these things from time to time, join the club—it’s a gigantic one. Speech mannerisms emerge; sometimes they fade away. Remember “groovy”? Or “golly, gee, or that’s swell”?  Some are just fads—the linguistic equivalent of tube tops, which, I hear, are making a come-back—and some, to be honest with you, just malinger. Of course, you may or may not already know that…

~ by Lorna's Voice on June 7, 2011.

331 Responses to “To be Honest With You …”

  1. I know you closed the voting, but I could not help myself, loved this post! People say the ‘dumbest’ things and they just catch on like ‘wildfire!!’ smiles, Robin

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  11. I may have fallen prey to a few of these. I tend to use “ya know?” or “right?” at the end of my sentences.

  12. [...] to thank the Freshly Pressed Decision-Makers (whoever you are) for noticing and appreciating my “To be Honest With You…” post. You really jump-started my blogging career at the starting [...]

  13. [...] faint-hearted language-lover. Here’s more grammatical and conversational pet peeves from my “To be honest with you…” post–equally as stunning as the first batch. Keep your comments coming. I don’t see an [...]

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  16. There’s one linguistic thing that still hasn’t disappeared from my tongue – I keep saying Geez Louise. I think it’s a habit, because my mom used to say that a lot, so yeah.

    • There are all kinds of ways that good Christians have found to not take the Lord’s name in vain. Goodness gracious, Geezum Crow, Lordy Loo, Geeze Louise, the list goes on and on! Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read my blog!

  17. A pet peeve of the English language I encounter is people pronouncing ‘well’ as ‘welp,’ as in “Welp, there it goes again.” Where does that ‘p’ come from?
    It’s a very subtle thing when spoken, but I’ve come to be annoyed by the tendency of people to actually spell out ‘welp’ in a message!

  18. “To be honest with you…” triggers doubt in me the same moment.
    Great post!

  19. “To be honest with you…” triggers doubt in me the same moment

  20. I like “to be perfectly honest”. What is imperfectly honest?

    I’m just sayin’….I’ve been listening attentively (painfully so) and I can’t quite figure out what you are “just sayin” so spit it out, will you?

    Love your post. Love language and words and appreciate anyone who doesn’t slaughter them.

  21. I like “to be perfectly honest”. What is imperfectly honest?

    I’m just sayin’….I’ve been listening attentively (painfully so) and I can’t quite figure out what your are “just sayin” so spit it out, will you?

    Love your post. Love language and words and appreciate anyone who doesn’t slaughter them.

  22. Well, I don’t know if you’ll ever see my wee little comment since you are being squished flat today – but as another language lover (indeed, I have a post up today about a goof from a flyer from a well-known Learning Center), I loved this post.

    Like, totally. ;-)

    I never add links, but if you’d like to check out the chaos I started on “Let’s Eat, Grandma: Grammar Saves Lives, check out: http://rasjacobson.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/clinging-to-old-grammar-rules/

    • I will check out your blog as soon as I send this reply. Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to post a comment! I have been replying to all of the comments I’ve been getting. My mom raised me to be polite and it just doesn’t seem right to ignore anyone kind enough and interested enough to read my work. I may be losing some sleep, but my conscience is clean as a whistle!

  23. @magnet for foolishness: isn at the end of the day like ‘when all is said and done’, ‘when all the smoke has cleared’, ‘be that as it may’ and other??

    vocab is littered wid redundancies

    anyone liked the book “Eats, Shoots and leaves”
    ??

  24. My pet peeve is when people say: “I don’t wanna be mean but…” “I’m not racist but….” ARGH, putting that disclaimer in front doesn’t make what you say any less mean or racist!

    I am very guilty of using: yeah, nah. “Yeah, nah I see what you mean ay.” I’m a Kiwi (New Zealander) and I thought that yeah nah was a real Kiwi thing.

    • Apparently, yeah, no has gone global! And I agree with you about the prefacory remarks that announce the exact opposite of what you are about to say. I recently said this to my 25 year old son because I am in the process of getting all my legal stuff in order after my recent divorce: “I don’t mean to sound morbid, but do you want my ashes after I’m cremated?” He looked at me and said, “Mom, there’s no way that sentence wasn’t going to end up being morbid!” Point taken! Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment on this post!

  25. This was awesome! I really enjoyed reading your blog! :)

    • Thanks for the positive feedback. You’re only encouraging more of the same! Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment on this post!

  26. I really enjoyed this post and in future wiil think twice about using these phrases but I think in the right context they are useful and meaningful.

    Will definitely be back to visit.. :P

    • I hope you visit often. With comments like yours, I am inspired to writes many more posts on this subject, which people really seemed to like. Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment on this post!

  27. Hi Lorna great posting!
    I’ve always heard of #1 especially during work. But it doesn’t effect me as badly as #3. I always get annoyed by the later and it makes me wonder of our all conversation and meetings before which part are never ‘that’ honest … hmmm..

    I love it that you have this expressed in words.

  28. Being both touchy about grammar and passionate about humor writing, this post; for me, is perfect!

    One of the best I have come across on FP

    • Music to my ears! I’ll be doing more posts like this, watch for a return of Darkwing Duck! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and comment!

  29. One that annoys is when people end each sentence with “you know what I mean?” I very much doubt that any-one who does this could ever have a thought that I didn’t understand. Another is starting a sentence with “basically”. You don’t have to keep to the basics of your point, I will understand what you’re saying. Basically, don’t assume that you’re cleverer than me, know what I mean?

    • Yeah, no, I know what you mean. Basically, people don’t think about these lingusitic tics, they just words they use out of habit–maybe to give their minds time to catch up to the conversation (ot the other way around). You know what I mean?! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post.

  30. Abbreviations used to shorten texts used in person drive me CRAZY! Don’t say LOL to my face, just laugh. Anyone who uses OMG in conversation and is over the age of 20 makes me cringe. It just makes you sound ditzy. There’s my rant for the day… thanks for letting me get that off my chest! LOL

    • I know what you mean! I don’t understand most of them, so I’m lost when people use use them. I had to look up a netspeak translator (yes, they exist for people like us) and it drove me crazy to translate. Then again, I lived in “D.C.”, Washington, that is, and the government is famous for acronyms! Great addition to my list of lexicon gripes! Thanks for reading my blog and commenting on this post.

  31. LOVE your writing, Lorna! My pet peeve is “impact” as a verb. When was the last time you heard a news anchor (or politician or celebrity or educator, oh my!) say that something or someone “affected” them? Nooo, not IMPACTFUL enough. What’s next? impactionated?!

    • Ah yes, verbifying nouns and adjectives–that was going to be my next post… You nailed it. Public figures (politicians, news and sports personalitys, celebs) are making up words and for some unholy reason they weave their way into our lexion, or as “they say”, go viral. There are a gazillion examples! Thanks for reading my blog and commenting on this post.

  32. hah! I like this. I use “To be honest with you” a lot, because for some reason that makes people not hate me when I say true-but-mean things to them. I also tend to say “yeah, no”, but more in a “yeah…. no” way. Never really thought about them before as “tics”, but they definitely are.

    I think my favorite linguistic tic is “needless to say”. And by “favorite” I mean “the one that really irritates me”. If it’s needless to say, than just why are you saying it?

    • Needless to say, I appreciate your comments! That is another great addition to my ever-growing list of linguistic tics. Look for more post like this one in the near future.

  33. This blog is completely true! I have never really noticed, but I am the worst person for saying all of those.
    Another one people often say is ‘no offence but…’ which is an obvious statement that what they are about to say is going to be offensive! haha

    • Yes, I brace myself when I hear that as a preface for what is to come. I know I’ll feel offended! Good one to add to the list. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  34. English is not my first language so I don’t have “yet” those “language habits” . It is good to know as I would have not recognized them as “improper or incorrect”…I’ll be careful…lol…
    thanks…great post!

  35. “you know what?” and
    “i’m like” no.

    “to be honest with you” and
    “i’m like” “yeah, sure… right, right.”
    :D lol

  36. yes,indeed

  37. [...] Certain phrases have snaked their way into our personal and professional discourse. Like seasonal allergies or cellulite, they appear and are nearly impossible to cure. But unlike seasonal allergies or cellulite, most people don’t notice their “linguistic tics.” Allergy or cellulite sufferers fight their afflictions with everything they can afford; but those who have fallen prey to senseless phrases are probably unaware and, even worse, don’t see … Read More [...]

  38. Hi, Lorna. I’m a “to be honest with you” sort of a person. I could hear myself saying it when I read your post. You don’t realise you’re doing it. My mother in law says e.g. “its five and twenty to twelve” instead of saying 11.35 or even twenty five to twelve! That drives me insane!
    Congrats on being freshly pressed. x

    • Never heard that one before. Is her primary language different than English? She may be translating time in her head from another language…
      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  39. Congrats on being freshly pressed !

    My two linguistic pet peeves:

    1. People whose voices rise at the end of a sentence, as if they’re asking a question, when they’re not. Women do it more often than men do.

    “Hi, my name is Jennifer? I live down the road?’ (she’s not sure what her name is or where she lives?)

    2. People who use the word “literally” as a metaphor. It literally drives me up the wall. ;-)

    • The gender thng is right on. Women tend to speak more tentatively than men do. And the mix-up betweeen “literally” and “figuratively” can get pretty funny. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  40. “To be honest with you” I never really thought much about how it may sound, but I usually just say it to let the person know that I’m telling the truth right off the bat, this way I can avoid the whole “Are you serious?” or “You’re lying” comment that’s bound to come after.

  41. communicates nothing helpful

  42. “See”, I have a problem with structures, structures have rules and defined ways. Language is one such structure. So, I really don’t stick to the rules of grammar. Although I appreciate your thoughts from a pure grammar perspective, but “to be honest with you”, how does it really matter as long as you are getting your ideas across. Ideas and thoughts are not as structured as we think they are, and language is not the exhaustive tool of expressing the same. No wonder, many a times we get frustratingly stuck at “how do I put this in words”….”so quite frankly”….using perfect grammar does not really matter…one should always discover his own style of getting his thoughts conveyed to the targetted audience. And a little bit tweaking of the rigid language is always okay!

    • Yeah, no, I appreaciate what you’re saying. If we get too hung up on all the proper grammar, our message may get lost. I was trying to point out that many of us (me included) don’t always pay attention to habits we’ve developed in our communication mannerisms. As a result, those habits may also get in the way of our message. Plus, I just notice things that others might gloss over. Seriously, though, your point is valid. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  43. Not sure if it’s been mentioned (skimmed the comments), but ‘I could care less’ is one that bothers me. Could you? So you do care? Good to know.

    • That one hasn’t been mentioned, but people say it a lot! If the person saying could care less, then why aren’t they telling us all about it? Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  44. That is something cool.

  45. Thank you for the post, it s very interesting:
    And i would like to add that, the same problem exists
    in other languages;
    Indeed people make pollution everywhere, on earth, oceans and
    languages too… what a pity…
    chems…

    • I like the term “pollution” for what we’ve been talking about; and likening it to what we human do to just about everything we touch. We really should be more conscious on many levels. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  46. I’m not being funny/rude/awkward, but…… whenever you hear this you can be pretty sure that the person speaking is about to be funny/rude/awkward! Beware. Great post. Language…funny thing.

    • This is one of my son’s favorite pet peeves. He says whenever you preface a sentence with something about what you’re NOT intending, you can be fairly certain that what you will hear is exactly that. Example from a recent conversation I had with him: “This isn’t meant to be morbid, but after I get cremated, do you want ashes?” I plead guilty on that one!

  47. a phrase i am severely allergic to is… at the end of the day. like during the day things are different and at the end of the day something else is true.

  48. Congrats on being pressed!
    I teach English in Italy and as someone who is also trying to navigate a new language I can attest to the importance of speaking correctly. It’s difficult enough without confusing some poor bloke with “yeah, no” phrases!

  49. LOL, I hear that many times “to be honest with you…” When person say this short line in their content of their speech I always curl up one eyebrow. Because I am saying to myself, “What all this time you were lying to me?”, lol

    • Yup! DOn’t you just want to say, “Thanks for finally being honest with me!”? Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

      • Your welcome, nope I say to myself when dealing with that person. Don’t believe nothing they say until they give me the liner. Hey Pinocchio nose would grow when he lied. Since that is not possible in real life because I am sure I would be blind by now talking face to face with many people, lol. I take be honest as “hey I am going to start telling you the truth. Lets cut the bs”. :)

  50. Well observed! I was sure I didn’t have ANY aggravating turns of phrase, until the editor went through my about-to-be published book The Relationship Revelation and repeatedly pointed out the use of ‘simply put’. Revoltingly irritating and repeated over and over again. Didn’t know I was doing it! Language foibles are so ingrained.

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

    • There is nothing like an editor to point out your own linguistic quirks. I know I have them and, yes, breaking the habit is tough. Congrats on your book! Someday I hope to be able to have a book in the about-to-be-published phase and I’ll be happy to have all irritating phases pointed out! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  51. Nice!!

  52. Afrikaans speaking South Africans sometimes say ‘Ja nee’, which directly translates to mean ‘Yes no’. It’s a meaningless phrase. I like to think that the yes and no cancel each other out, making it a void statement.

    We also have quirks like ‘now now’, which sort of means ‘just now’.

    But my absolute worst linguistic quirk is ‘nevertheless’.

    Great post! I enjoyed it.

    Lee

    http://leeschmidt.wordpress.com

    • It’s oddly comforting (in the misery-loves-company way) that people speaking languages other than English deal with quirky, meaningless prhases. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  53. [...] Posted by Drexelle C. Bulda Certain phrases have snaked their way into our personal and professional discourse. Like seasonal allergies or cellulite, they appear and are nearly impossible to cure. But unlike seasonal allergies or cellulite, most people don’t notice their “linguistic tics.” Allergy or cellulite sufferers fight their afflictions with everything they can afford; but those who have fallen prey to senseless phrases are probably unaware and, even worse, don’t see … Read More [...]

  54. To be honest with you, I never gave it much thought.
    Comment from http://www.chinabusinessgather.com

  55. These quirky linguistic gymnastics develop in any and all communities, there seems
    to be strange paradigms of ‘local’ knowldge within them. In Queensland (Aust) people finish a sentence with ‘ay” this also happens in New Zealand. I have also heard sentences finished with ‘yeah but’ (yeah but what?).In Australia it is the providence of AFL footballers to use’Yeah…No’ Any wonder I am constantly perlexed…
    great blog….thanks.

    • The more I read these great comments, the more global these examples gets. I love it! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  56. Haha! This is such a nail in the head! Great post! and hilarious one at that :)

  57. I just bought a book called “Literally, the Best Language Book Ever” – I think you might also appreciate it!

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll look for it. I am a lover of language. “Eats Shoots and Leaves” by Lynn Truss is great, too. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  58. Great job =)

  59. great. really AWZM :)

  60. Great blog! A few of my friends frequently use “Yeah,no.” It gets to me too. And to be honest with you (haha), I’ve found myself committing grammatical blasphemy from time to time as well.

    • You may or may not know this, but, if you’re human, you commit “grammatical blashpemy.” I find the best way to deal with it is humor. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  61. I love it when people catch blatantly weird idioms like these. Two that drive me crazy…both are related to bad grammar…..when someone will say something like, “Oh yeah, I SEEN him at the store yesterday” or “That lawnmower really NEEDS FIXED.”

    WHAT!?

    • Great one to add to the growing list: “needs fixed” or “needs baked.” What happened to “to be or not to be”? That is the question. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  62. Love it! “Ya know” is my verbal tic of choice. I mean, what does that even mean, ya know? …heh. hehe.

  63. love this post. i am now learning English and i learn much from this post. those phrases are like the phrases used by politicians to some extent.

    thanks

    • Listen closely and they are used all the time–mostly when politicians are not reading from a speech. It’s actually scary. I’m glad you found the post both funny and informative. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  64. I say, “you know what I mean, Vern” all the time and my husband pointed out that it is from an “Ernest” movie from the 80’s. It became so natural to me that I actually forgot it was a movie quote.

    • Oh yes, I remember that. There are lots of phrases we use that originated in movies. When someone I know is about to do something they don’t want to do, I often say “May The Force be with you.” Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  65. I have heard this nonsense:- I ain’t done nothing.. so that means literally that you have done smthing? or do you mean it the other way??
    jeez!

    • Ah, the double negative compounded by a non-word contraction (ain’t). I think these people are trying to hard to confuse the rest of us! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  66. Okay, so, this made me chuckle and say, “hey, I’m guilty!”. Now, I seriously need to start listening to what I say. However, I think “to be honest with you” is not a language tic. It’s more of like an expression that precedes unpleasant phrases. It is to prepare the listener for some ugly words to come his/her way.

    Also, you know what? Although language tics are technically wrong, they’re actually fun to hear because in a world where we’re stuck with rules, laws, and certain other things that bind us, it is actually interesting to know that in some way, we or some people are doing something to slightly break away from established norms in order not to be suffocated by what has always been thought or claimed as right. However, I do understand that some people (maybe you) find them annoying because it’s not right. To each his own though.

    Congrats on freshly pressed!

    • Yes, they are fun and the world would be boring without them. When used consiously, they have their place; when used as mindless fillers, I find them distracting. I’m just a word-nerd who notices this stuff and thinks it’s funny. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  67. Ha! After seeing the Darkwing Duck picture on Freshly Pressed this is the last thing I expected to read! However, I found it very entertaining! The “Ya, no” thing does not seem to exist in my world. Who says that?? It could be because I live in South Alabama and am a Mom to three very small children though. I don’t get out much. I am more likely to hear and get irritated by the slightly inappropriate phrases my 4 year old manages to pick up in the grocery store like, “Them there cucumbers are the biggest derned things I every did see.”

    • Thank you so much for making me laugh out loud. You have your own language battles to wage. May The Force be with you! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  68. To be honest is the most important thing

    • Yes, and that’s why I assume that what is being said is honest. So why does someone have to say, “to be honest with you”? Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  69. Really funny.

  70. I feel like teenagers like myself are on the front lines of these word changes. Especially the way we use the word “Like.” Although it is over exemplified in movies and tv shows, a big part of it is true. It starts to get like very annoying to like here friends talk like that.
    -fromthesportscave.com

    • The researcher in me really wants to get to the bottom of the where/when/who orgins of these words and phrases. Where do young people get them from? If they are “fillers” or pauses, why doesn’t silence suffice? Human behavior is just so complex and interesting. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  71. Then there’s them people who like always say “I seen.” Talk about annoying eh?

  72. Great post, love your voice! Funny, funny, funny, and guilty as charged.

  73. I know, right? [That's another one. Of course the other person didn't know that I know!]
    As someone who works in a medical field (with dogs and cats) and cannot offer guarantees on treatments or outcomes, I find myself saying “may or may not” quite a bit. But that’s only at work! And that may or may not be true. -Jen

    • Yeah, no, I completely understand in your situation that you have to hedge your bets. To be honest with you, I would, too! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  74. A Great post! people who are truly honest won’t say ‘to be honest with you…”. Honesty is something in the heart not necessarily to be shown by words. Correct me if i’m wrong.

  75. [...] Certain phrases have snaked their way into our personal and professional discourse. Like seasonal allergies or cellulite, they appear and are nearly impossible to cure. But unlike seasonal allergies or cellulite, most people don’t notice their “linguistic tics.” Allergy or cellulite sufferers fight their afflictions with everything they can afford; but those who have fallen prey to senseless phrases are probably unaware and, even worse, don’t see … Read More [...]

  76. Great post! Reminds me of my all-time fave: when people say, “Actually” on the phone right before they tell you the person is in a meeting. . .especially when you are calling for the owner of the company. . .as IF they are SO surprised and expressing “can ya believe it? He/She is ACTUALLY in a meeting.” I know it comes across as peoples’ uncomfortability with outright saying someone is unavailable, but just sayin’ Thanks for your language heads ups.
    Reminds me. You may have heard this one: When dangling watch your participles.

    • Another great one for my ever-growing list of silly things people say. I am guilty of “actually” but I use it at the beginning of sentences. Example: Actually, I never thought this post would hit such a collective nerve. The word is useless and I wouldn’t use it in my writing, but I’ve already said it to some people I with whome I spoke.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  77. I can not stand when people start their phrase with “To tell you the truth.” Well what else would you do, lie to me? AT least that always crosses my mind when someone says that, but maybe that is just me.

  78. As a soon-to-be former English teacher, one my with eleven years of experience, I give you my thanks. For over a decade, I have been wiping the Mr. Bubble off the Slip-n-Slide to hell that the English language has been on, with little success. Too many people accept the sentence “Get there faster” or “Express Lane: Ten Items or Less” and never once question their lack of grammatical validity.

    Other things that irritate me are words like “guesstimate” and other linguistic half breeds skulking about the English language like Morlocks, reaching out to grab a proper word whenever they like. Keep posting and making people question their own poor grammatical choices. My thanks!!!

    • I am happy to be of service to those who care about the abrogation of our language. I wasn’t an English major, but I had a really scary elementary school English teacher. She was quite effective. I plan on many more posts like this one. It certainly has hit a collective nerve! But what to write about next? Verbalizing nouns and adjectives? The creation of new words by our esteemed public figures and others? Netspeak? The tendency to use sentence fragments rather than full sentences? So much material…I will do my best!

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  79. Ugh. To Be Honest With You is going around my office. I heard a saying once, and I think of it everytime I hear this phrase. If someone has to say, I’m not lying or To tell you the truth – then they probably aren’t.

    • You could point it out by saying “Thank you so much for being honest with me.” But be ready for some strange looks and perhaps a little shunning…

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  80. To be honest with you, I only read this blog because of the Dark Wing Duck picture. I may or may not have thought about using the word photo instead, but yeah, no, I’m pretty sure you can’t really call a cartoon drawing a photo…:)

  81. I do not consider myself a writer. I blog for blog sake.
    No runs, no hits, and lots of errors ..
    It would be nice to have an editor on call when the grew floating starts..

    Nice piece.

  82. It is interesting how our language changes over time with the influence of our society and environmnet. Just wait for tomorrow you will hear something new.

    • And I will be listening and ready to write about it, hopefully in a tickle-your-funny-bone way! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post! Your suppport means more than I can say (and I can say a lot).

  83. Another “guilty” here … Thanks for sharing that and congratulations!

  84. One I haven’t seen mentioned is ‘how are you?’ ‘fine’. The answer is always the same, no matter if its the truth or not – we may as well be asking ‘what did you have for breakfast?’ :)

    • If we asked “What did you have for breakfast?” we may actually get an answer. The social custom around “how are you?” is to NOT get an answer. Try an experiment: the next time someone asks how you are, tell them in great detail how you are feeling. When they react strangely (and they will), just say, “Well, you asked how I was doing.” Maybe one person at a time, you’ll get your point across.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  85. [...] sufferers fight their afflictions with everything they can afford; but those who have fallen [...] FreshlyPressed This entry was posted in Kota Tinggi Waterfall and tagged Honest. Bookmark the permalink. Post a [...]

  86. Oh God. I have more linguistic tics than I even want to know. My speech especially is terrible (when I write, I at least get to go back and check for repetitions). One thing I seemingly can’t stop saying, and which means absolutely nothing at all (most of the time) is “for example”. Although I’ve been thinking it might make some kind of secret sense to me, since I dutifully translate this mannerism in every language I speak: French, English, Polish, Czech.

    Another very annoying thing I do is I talk about what I’m going to say before I’ve even said it. Like: This thought came to me the other day, and I’m still not sure exactly why, but it seemed important and I’ve been wanting to tell you ever since… bla bla bla. Often people will stop me and ask: wait, which thought? And I’m like: ah, sorry, I haven’t come to this part yet. :$

    If I was self-conscious, I would probably never open my mouth at all. :D

    As a non-native English-speaker, though, I must confess to a certain fondness for such meaningless, yet oh so idiomatic phrases. They’re what makes you sound fluent! I may have studied languages for too long and fried my brains over it, for I now feel like there is the most magic in a language where it is at its most nonsensical, cryptic and changing. That’s what tells you a language is alive, and not a dead, objective, logically correct sign system. :)

    • I applaud your facility to speak many languages. Using these linguistic tics may indeed help you to fit right into all the rest of us English speakers who don’t use English properly. That’s okay! We’re human and were designed for making mistakes. All I wanted to do is make people aware. What you do with the awareness is totally up to you.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  87. My favorite is the ubiquitous nonsensical question, “Can I ask you a question?” Well, Sir, you just did. Awfully rude of you to force me to play your game right off the bat.

    • I love that one and, I must admit, I do it much too frequently. But when I do, I catch myself and say, “Oop, that was a question, now I have another one…”
      Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  88. SO I’ve noticed people have started to begin their sentences with “So”, even when you haven’t been talking to them about anything related, or even talking to them at all! For example (no prior conversation has been had) “So her Grandmother died and so she has to go to France.” Huh?

    “So” suggests that something has a direct relationship with whatever has come previously – “I hated my car, so I bought a new one”. Why are people starting sentences with so!!

    SO annoying.

    • SO true! And have you noticed the habit of people trailing off sentences with the same word? “I just finished doing the dishes, so…” What’s that all about. Another commentor raised that issue. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  89. To be honest with you, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post!

  90. While certain words and phrases really irritate me, I think that in present day society, it’s almost comforting to hear a person start a conversation with “To be honest”…

    On a more serious note, these frustrate me:

    “IRRegardless” I’m sorry, that’s not a word, no matter how many times you insist on illegitimately forcing it into a sentence.

    “Well, if that’s how you feel…” Why yes, that is how I feel, which is why I said it.

    “If I were you…” You’re not. I’m asking for your advice, not testing your imagination.

    “Who” vs. “whom”

    Dangling

    • Yes, these are great examples of annoying words and phrases–more to add to my collection! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  91. To be honest, like, I’ve never really thought about it so much, like.
    If truth be told, I probably do it, like, all the time and that. oh and that I must definitely do as I hadn’t even planned to type that, it just came out… like.
    One I have noticed recently, come to think of it (another one), is in work someone always says the phrase “you know, it’s one of them”. I’ve picked it up. I will drop it.
    Fabulous post!

  92. There is one expression that gets on my nerves: “the thing is”, used just to introduce anything you are about to say. Excuse me? What thing? I used to know a girl that would say it every 30 seconds. I find it so weird that sometimes one can involuntarily pick up these senseless phrases by simply hearing them all the time. Any time I caught myself saying “the thing is” I’d just horrify.
    Congratulations on your post and blog. Looking forward to reading more.

    • Great addition to my ever-growing list of phrases that bug people. You’ll see more posts like this, trust me! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  93. One of my favorites is “its the honest truth”. What could it be the dishonest truth or the Lie Truth. The best response I get from people after telling them something is ” Really” and I respond ” no I am lying to you”

    Great blog

    Ray

  94. Okay, I’ve got two. “The fact of the matter is..” I hate that one a lot. I used to have a girlfriend that said it almost every sentence. I think I broke up with her over it. I remember having a pretty big argument about it at least.

    The second one is “….having said that.” Now you’re going to tell me what you just said doesn’t apply to the matter at hand. Why did you tell me then?

    Enjoyed the post….intend to read some more.

    • That’s pretty bad when your relationship breaks up over a phrase! But I shouldn’t talk, my marriage almost ended (it eventually did) over a dispute about whether it was safe to leave a cassette tape engaged while it wasn’t playing. Your examples are great and you may see them in future posts (credit given to you, of course!). Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  95. One of my pet peeves is “irregardless.” Redundant; not a word!

  96. I love your blog! Come visit mine too! : )

  97. Hola!
    Permíteme presentarme soy Cleo administradora de un directorio de blogs, visité tu portal y está interesante, tienes temas muy buenos. Me encantaría poner un link de tu web en mis sitios y así mis visitas puedan visitarlo también. Si estás de acuerdo no dudes en escribirme
    leonorancco@gmail.com
    Éxitos con tu sitio web.
    Saludos Y éxitos en lo que emprendas!!!
    Leonor

  98. i definitely do the “yeah, no” thing ALL THE TIME! and every time i say it, i even think to myself ‘what does that even mean, why do i do this?’ and i’ve really just been waiting for someone to call me out finally!

    • Don’t think of it so much as calling you out, but more as getting you thinking. That’s my goal. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  99. You have quite a comment thread on this post!
    I am bothered by hearing a speaker use the word “literally” for something that is obviously not literal, as in “I literally died from embarrassment when she said that”.

    • Good one. I know I learned the difference between “literally” and “figuratively” in the same lesson. I didn’t learn just one of the words! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  100. I hear it said often: “I’m not gonna lie, that love was a pretty cool show.
    Great post!

    • Yes, basically the same thing as “to be honest with you.” People say in like they say “um”–as a filler in a normal conversation. If only they heard themselves talk! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  101. I mentioned quite a few bad verbal habits in an essay of my own a while back:

    http://kitchenmudge.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/just-say-it-and-then-shut-up/

    It moves on to cover some arcane stuff that you’re probably not interested in, but you might look over the beginning.

  102. A lot of times “to be honest with you” is , i’m going to say something you may not like, but hey, i’m just being honest. I remember a fellow coworker saying this all the time right before she gets them to buy a bunch of stuff. It almost seemed slimy when she said it.

    • I agree, sometimes the phrase is used purposefully. But many times it;s just used habitually. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  103. “Whether or not” really kills me. Like ‘may or may not”. Yeah, no, I don’t like those.

    We use “as I understand it” a lot in my profession – talk about CYA! Is it a fact or isn’t it?! :-)

  104. No, no, I don’t do it, but thanks for the many laughs. To be honest with you, I may or may not start using them, just cause I am so susceptible to this type of social influence.
    :)

    Kate

  105. OMG! I can relate to this through so many conversations that I had with my friends…it’s not even funny! Whenever anyone says “To be honest” I always think “Wait…you were thinking about not being honest.” Sometimes I feel offended and I’m glad that you brought this up! Keep on writing :)

  106. Wonderful post! I’ve noticed these things as well. One of my great pet peeves is “you know…”. “Well, I was there at the movies last night and, you know, things started to happen…”. This filler drives me mad, especially when people don’t finish their thoughts.

  107. Good Stuff!! This may or may not be true, but to to be honest with you, i thoroughly enjoyed.

  108. Witty post! My Mom often says “well, to be honest with you…” and it means that she is now going to offer her very blunt-and-not-so-tackful opinion about your weight / opinions / clothing / political bent / religious view / fill-in-the-blank. I always cringe when I hear anyone preface their sentance with that one and brace myself! :)
    Congrats on Freshly Pressed – MoSop

    • Yes, moms do that, don’t they (speaking as a mom)? I appologize for moms everywhere who make ominious prefaces to sentences that their children have to hear for their own good (again, speaking as a mom). Just face it, you’re doomed, like the rest of us who have moms! :)

  109. I can relate with this! I love this post! *Thumbs up*

  110. Yeah, no I really get what you’re saying, and well, to be honest, it makes a lot of sense. You may or may not know this, but I really enjoyed reading you.

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  111. My bugbears are “anyway” and “you get what i mean”. Are the speakers questioning my intelligence?

  112. Yeah, no- or “Ja, nee” as they say here in South Africa- is definitely a phrase that may or may not be a linguistic tic in many languages it seems.
    And how about “you know what I mean?”! Drives me up the wall. Or starting the conversation with ” You know that guy that…?” No, I don’t know him. And neither do you or you’d use his name!
    We’re all quirky, I suppose. And we Language Lovers are hard to please. At least that’s what my kids tell me. Loved the post. Thanks

    • Your comment made me laugh out loud! Yes we are a difficult bunch, but at least we can have fun with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep a straight face when someone starts a sentence with “You know that guy that…” Your comment was precious. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  113. This was both enlightening and cringe worthy, I am guilty of all the above and when I realise I say something to excess then it becomes even worse :/ Whoops! Thanks for poinbting it out in a humorous way though and congrats on being FP’d! :)

  114. Somethimes this kind of expressions do sense… well, I may or may not be using them \o/

  115. That’s the worst…to any comment you make. e.g. They served cold coffee – Oh, that’s the worst.
    Really? Is it?

    Love your post!

    • I plan on posting something quite similar to that–“There’s nothing I hate worse than…” and I heard the most trivial thing following that opener. That’s what got me thinking about writing this post in the first place. I think I’ll use some of the great suggestions from all these comments (giving due credit, of course) and create another post soon. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  116. My speech therapist said that these kinds of phrases are called ‘starters’. People who stammer use them loads if the word coming later is harder to say. I think this is for a few reasons (my speech therapist hasn’t actually explained this far yet!) but the main one seems to be that it allows your brain to prepare, in the same way that umms and ah’s do (these are different in different languages too!). So it is technically a hesitation, a way for your brain to coordinate itself with something unconscious. Because speech (let’s face it) is a massive job involving so many different processes and your brain does it all pretty much spontaneously – it’s just trying to help itself in a non-intrusive fashion.

    • Yes, I believe that you are correct. Isn’t it interesting that we have to pause with a word, sound or phrase rather than with silence? Silence seems to make many of us uncomfortable, so we fill our dialogs or monologs with unneccesary “stuff.” We humans are interesting, indeed. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  117. I love it! I grew up in an area where people tended to say “I am going to try and *fill in the blank with something*” EX: I am going to try and make it work. I mostly beat using that phrase out of my grammar because it’s so wrong, but everyone once in a while I catch myself saying I am going to “try and” do something.

    • Old habits die hard, don’t they. I grew up in NY but lived in the DC area for about 6 years. I picked up the word “y’all” like a virus I just can’t shake. I moved back to NY and have lived here for over 20 years and still say ‘y’all” now and then. They can send a man to the moon, but there isn’t a cure for “y’all” once it’s in your blood–even for a Yankee! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  118. I’m one of those that constantly say “To be honest with you” I never really thought much about how it may sound, but I usually just say it to let the person know that I’m telling the truth right off the bat, this way I can avoid the whole “Are you serious?” or “You’re lying” comment that’s bound to come after.

    • Saying it without thinking and saying it with a purpose are two very different things. Conscious speaking is what is lacking in so many of our conversations and public discourse. That’s that I was poking fun at. It’s fun to think about all the silly things people say without thinking about what they really mean. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  119. Last night I overheard someone say “I’m all for whatever.”

  120. The more I’ve thought about “yeah, no,” and I’ve thought about it frequently, the way one thinks about ticks and mosquitos, is that it might also be a kind of contraction. Think “yeah, I know” without the “I.” It seems slightly less irritating this way, as if someone was simply contracting one’s self instead of trying to contain multitudes.

  121. What can I say? As the article said “To be honest with you”. It was more than honest…

  122. Thanks for nailing one of my biggest pet peeves Lorna! I think disclaimers, such as “to be honest..” of any kind are so frustrating. They have become the new, “um.”

    Even better is when the honesty is appended with “really”s and “truly”s. “To be completely frank and totally serious,” takes so much more time than saying whatever it is they need to spit out.

  123. I’m guilty of the “To be honest with you…” You would assume that everyone is being honest about questions that are implying someone is guilty of something

  124. I hate when people begin a sentence with, “Well, basically…” As if to say, “I will now break this down to the most basic level, because you are incapable of understanding anything else.”

    • That would be fine if you are an elementary school teacher, but when speaking to your spouse, you have a great point! I am loving the feedback I am getting on this post! Thanks so much.

  125. I’m not a big fan of “well, the way I look at it” or “in my opinion…” Technically you are the one speaking thus it would be your opinion and the way you see it. This is an amazing post and i love that these trivial things that do plague our speech every day has come into the light.

  126. These phrases don’t bother me, but cellulite does. These phrases are like babies breath in a flower arrangement. They fill in the empty spots, but they can get in the way. Minimalism is direct. The Japanese understood this in their flower arrangements. Less is more (oops that’s another cliche isn’t it). Love your post.

  127. [...] To be Honest With You … (via Lorna’s Voice) 09 Jun Certain phrases have snaked their way into our personal and professional discourse. Like seasonal allergies or cellulite, they appear and are nearly impossible to cure. But unlike seasonal allergies or cellulite, most people don’t notice their “linguistic tics.” Allergy or cellulite sufferers fight their afflictions with everything they can afford; but those who have fallen prey to senseless phrases are probably unaware and, even worse, don’t see … Read More [...]

  128. Thehungrybookworm beat me to it. I was gonna start that way. :)
    I have not heard #2, but #1 and #3 yes. Also Ava Astons “so” at the end of a sentence trailing off…is there more to come? So…what?
    Also the words “you know” and “like” added in. We are going to you know,like really go out and you know like have a good time you know.
    If you don’t know what to say just pause, take a breath and go on…you know? Totally!
    It is better to start a conversation with, to be honest, than to drop it in later, to be honest.
    Congrats on being FP!

    • Hey, like, you know, I totally agree with your awesome comment, so… What have we done with the English language and how do we get it back? Thanks for your comments!

      • I tell my wife our language is devolving not evolving. People do not take the time to learn or pronounce words properly. Probably is shortened to prolly as in holly, diff-er-ent is now diff-ernt. Is it nee-ther or ni-ther ee-ther or i-ther?
        The dictionary people keep changing with the flow! NO! the dictionary should be the Bible of our language and pronunciations should not change they should be learned and taught correctly! It is English, not slanglish or spanglish!
        I cringe when I hear words slaughtered. Oh well, I am stuck in my rut at a young age. What to do? What to do? I rant, I rave, I carry on. So….. :)

        • What to do? I notice, chuckle, and write about it–it’s either that or I get too stressed and that’s not healthy! The language has been evolving/devolving since “Hector was a pup.” This is nothing new–we don’t talk like we are in one of Shakespear’s plays, right? Still turning nouns and adjectives into verbs and creating new words like “ginormous” are abominations to those of us who have respect for what used to be called English. I try to keep up with the times, but stay true to the language. It’s a high-wire act and my balance isn’t that great. WHat to do? Poke fun at the most obvious crimes against the language and let others join in the fun.

          I plan on doing more posts like this. Look for Darkwing Duck to make another appearance. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  129. Great post. I like the humorous spin on annoying pet peeves! :)

  130. Used consciously, many of these phrases can be very useful in framing a conversation/negotiation. Even when used unconsciously, provided they’re used in moderation, they can still lubricate conversation, making it more natural and comfortable than one that purely exchanges information.

    The problem lies when they’re both used unconsciously AND excessively! :)

    • I agree completely. Or to say it another way: To be honest with you, I, like, totally agree with most or all of what you’re saying. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my post!

  131. I’m so glad somebody has dedicated time to writing on this subject. To be honest with you, I’ve always felt that I have a better grasp on the English language than the majority of Americans, but I say most of these things frequently. I hope it at least makes it a little better that I am usually aware that I’m doing something annoying. Furthermore, that is one cool Darkwing Duck picture.

  132. I knew someone who would always say “What I would say to you is….” and I was like, um, are you not saying it right now??? Although, I am guilty of the “Yeah..no.” but I typically use if for humor. For example-

    Girl on the Contrary, is it a good idea for me to sext my congressman?

    Yeah…no.

    But maybe I’m the only one who thinks that’s funny. Also, now I’m worried I might have confused that impressionable young lady. I actually may be to blame for a government scandal. Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Love this post!!!

  133. To be honest with you, despite being over-used, these phrases do perform a useful function in communication. Consider the following situations.

    1. Someone suggests that they will not read a book on integral calculus because they won’t like it. You reply:
    – “You may or may not like the book, but you will learn a lot from it.”
    That the person may or may not like the book is self evident. The phrase is used here to indicate that they will learn a lot from the book independent of whether or not they like it.

    2. Someone asks if you would like to go to the movies.
    – “Would you like to go to the movies tonight? Or perhaps you are busy with your marking?”
    – “Yeah, no, I’d love to go to the movies.”
    The first word, “Yeah”, indicates a general acceptance of what the person is saying. It is said with an open-minded optimism, an unfurled brow and keen eyes. As in: “Yeah, that sounds great” or “Yeah, I think that too”. The “no, I’d love to go to the movies” is designed to allay their fears, evident by their last question, that you do not want to come to the movies either because of the marking (which they are aware of) or for some other reason (which they are not).

    3. As you point out, “To be honest with you” if meant literally does not sound good. It implies that the rest of the time they are being dishonest. It usually means “What I am about to say is not going to be popular but I really believe it” or “I wouldn’t normally say this, but …”. In a room full of left-wing socialists you might say:
    – “To be honest with you, capitalism created jobs and prosperity which could not be achieved in communist Russia and China.”

    These situations may or may not be representative, but I believe such phrases do have a place in clear communication. Good communicators use them to their advantage to get their message across in a clear and concise manner. Bad communicators over-use or misuse them turning them into meaningless cliches.

    • I see you point(s) and agree. I was poking light-hearted fun at those people who don’t really think about what they are saying, but say these things out of habit. Thanks for your comment and perspective. That’s exactly what I was hoping for!

  134. Thanks.

    http://cmiraeng.wordpress.com

    http://www.twitter.com/CalogeroMiraEng

    http://www.friendfeed.com/CalogeroMira

    http://www.facebook.com/CalogeroMira

  135. That’s another good one along the same vein as “to be honest.” I wonder where these phrases come from. Some people have commented that they are purposeful–to prepare the listener for some bad news. I suppose in some cases that may be the case. But so often I hear the phrase used mindlessly, like “um” or “ah.” Interesting. Thanks for your comment and perspective. That’s exactly what I was hoping for!

    • I remembering hearing them called “disclaimers” in my sociology classes. Used for the same reasons you described. Such as “I’m not a racist, but…” In which case “to be honest…” makes sense, as you’re warning the listener that their feelings won’t be spared, unlike most social situations where white lies routinely fly.

      I actually have a book detailing the history of the word “um.” I’d look up the title, but unfortunately, it’s not very good.

      • A whole book on the history of “um?” I think the topic could be covered in, um, a booklet! I agree with your Soc teacher, when used consciously, these phrases have a purpose. But so many people use them mindlessly, the the “ums” and “ahs” the give our mouths time to catch up to our brains (or is is the other way around?). Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

    • You’re welcome! Side note: I did a google search on literally+metaphor+peeve and found this blog, I think I’m going to put it on my sidebar! Thought you might like it too:

      http://metaphorhacker.net/2011/02/literally-triumph-of-pet-peeve-over-matter/

      A whole blog devoted to metaphors? Wow.

  136. subscribing to this blog

  137. Hello! I saw your blog on Freshly Pressed and enjoyed this post! I agree with you on “may or may not,” and “yeah no,” but the other one, well, I’d like to put it this way, though it’s similar to what kalee11 said about “to be honest with you.” I don’t think it was ever meant to imply “everything I’ve said so far wasn’t the truth,” so much as “everything I’ve said so far has been sugar coated not to hurt your feelings.”

    It reminds me of Japanese: in Japanese there’s “honne” (本音) and “tatemae” (建前). “Honne” means one’s true feelings, and “tatemae” represents social niceties. It’s not that people are being dishonest by using tatemae (I remember my Japanese professor emphasizing this point), it’s that Japanese value preserving harmony among groups of people, so why constantly say things that might cause friction, such as one’s true feelings?

    While as English speakers we like to believe that we’re very individualistic, we tend to have the same mechanics going on in our interactions. We tend to be careful not to hurt people. This is tatemae. “To be honest with you” just signals that the honne is coming out.

  138. My personal pet peeve is “so basically” used as a filler in sentences, where it adds nothing. Watching an online video the other day outlining instructions on a process, I heard it used at the beginning of each, and every, sentence. “like” is my other niggle.

    One that I don’t hear much lately is “you’ve got your” – and what the speaker is referring to is something I don’t have, and most likely don’t want to have. I’ve often heard this used by sales people when demonstrating an item. “On the left you’ve got your power button…..”. This phrase has the power to drive me to distraction, for reasons I don’t quite understand.

    • Yes, we come up with all kinds of ways to create pauses when speaking without seeming like we are pausing. And then there is the missuse of words. Your example made me chuckle–“you’ve got your…” I’ve heard it a million times and never noticed it until you pointed it out. Bravo!

  139. If I am your waitress one day in the future (some I’ve picked up as a college girl to make more money), call me out on these. This is funny and true and I’m cringing at my use of some of these.

  140. This Is so true. I really like it. People around us do it all the time. Great! :)

  141. Very good entry!`’I must be honest’ with you and tell you that there are many situations I could say I have used this one. The first one I didn’t even realise but probably is true and second one is for people who don’t have respect for language!! I had luck to not hear it at all!! :))) However, i believe that there are situations where the clishe “to be honest” is useful and in the end we are living in the world where you can’t be with everybody in every situation 100% honest! Discretion = Protection!

    Excelent entry! You have a new subscriber!! If you find my entries interesting, please subscribe! Happy to share thoughts with world!
    Lots of love!

    • Thanks for your comment and perspective–and for subscribing. I plan on more posts along this line. I’ve been collecting more of these kinds of linguistic tics.

      I will check out your blog and subscribe. This social networking thing is turning out to be great fun!

  142. I really can’t stand it when people say “I might could…” What the heck is that supposed to mean?

  143. It’s funny. Most of the time I hear other people use these phrases. The only I use is “may or may not” but most of the time I mock its use. And when I say, “To be honest with you,” it’s because I’ve been avoiding the issue the entire conversation. xD

    • I was poking fun at people to use the phrase mindLESSLY. Some people use it mindFULLY to soften a blow (to themselves or others). But a great many people just throw the phrase in there, and that just makes me wonder…

  144. I have a friend who often says something like, “yeah, that sounds great, I’m not going.” I call it a false positive. I also enjoy analyzing language mannerisms.

  145. cute post. My pet hate is “he turned around and said” I always say ,”why wasn’t he facing you. How rude to talk with his back to you”, but I always have to explain myself!

    • I get the image of a guy spinning around and around as he is saying something! Unless the guy is a dancer, “He turned around and said…” isn’t probably the way you want to describe how a dialog went down! Thanks for the comment–I’m collecting these linguistic tics!

  146. Very interesting post! Although I think the first and second ones aren’t bad, I haven’t heard the second but it would really bug me. The First is more used in situations regarding rumors, when you have uncertain information but think that the possible implications are interesting then you’d discuss it with your friends, letting them know it was from an uncertain source. The third is for when you want to be blunt with someone, who maybe in other circumstances you would have only told them part of what you were thinking, my art teacher says that to me all the time when he doesn’t like what I’m doing, we seem to have different tastes. It’s good to see fellow language lovers here though, and the “like” craze is really annoying me, it has been there through my entire childhood, but only years into secondary school have I started to pick it up, and I hate it, as does my dad!

    • Another misused word that I will mention in a future post is “awesome” as in “That was an awesome milkshake.” Really? It inspired awe and wonderment in you? That must have been some milkshake! Yes, I am a language lover and keen observer. There will be much more to come along these lines…

      Thanks for your comment and perspective. That’s exactly what I was hoping for!

  147. I completely agree with you on ‘may or may not,’ I hate copouts.

    Something I found interesting, though, is that in all your examples of people saying ‘yeah, no’ what they really meant was ‘yeah,’ whereas when I hear people use that phrase they always really mean ‘no.’ As in, ‘yeah, no, that sounds like an awful movie I would never see it.’ It doesn’t make the phrase less annoying, though.

    As far as ‘to be honest with you’ goes, however, I don’t think this is a language tic people don’t notice. The connotation of this phrase is that what’s going to come next is either unpleasant, so people think that they can get away with saying it by calling it the truth, or that they’re admitting something they wouldn’t normally admit, and so are justifying it to themselves.

    Great post, though, and congrats on being FP!

  148. it is a great point! can’t agree more!!!

  149. I have a project that you can tackle next, write about the language of text messaging, including the abbreviations. Those abbreviations drive me nuts! LOL ;)

    Thanks for the smile today. Loved reading this post.

  150. I love this post. i catch myself developing a new “catch” phrase every few months that sticks with me. It’s so frustrating when you KNOW you’re doing it, yet cannot stop!

    • All of us have our linquistic quirks–they are just fun to notice. Thanks for your comment and perspective. That’s exactly what I was hoping for!

  151. I admit it. I did not pay enough attention to my English teacher. I am paying for it now.
    Thank you for the education. We can get better at using our language with practice, right?

  152. Here’s a Southern one the drives my wife batty: might could!

    • “Might could?” That’s a new one to me. How is it used? “I might could use a cold beer right about now.”? That’s just plain wrong! My 100 year old English teacher would be jumping up and down, whacking someone’s desk with her yardstick!

  153. good post, this is so true. I catch myself saying, “To be honest with you…” and I always regret saying it immediately after because it suggests that everything I said up to that point is a lie. I also frequently use the most annoying, meaningless phrase of all: “It is what it is.” It literally means nothing and I’m trying to train myself out of using it.

    • “It is what it is.” WHy didn’t I think of that one. Every time I hear it I cringe. I want to ask, “What is ‘it?’ And is ‘it’ really what is professes to be?” But that sounds rather snarky quite anit-Buddhist! But you’re right, we have so many phrases that are meaningless at best and confusing at worst. Thanks for your comment and perspective. That’s exactly what I was hoping for!

  154. Hi — another Lorna here!

    I’m guilty of the “yes, no” thing – but it was pointed out to me that I say “yes, no, yes”! I’m really not aware of it most of the time, so it gives me a fright when I notice it. But people always seem to know what I mean.

    I also hate the “To be honest with you”. Ugh!

    • I think “yeah, no” is just a “filler” like “um.” It gives you time to think about how you want to respond. We do some pretty stange things with our language, don’t we. And nice to “meet” another Lorna!

      All the best, Lorna

  155. Excellent!!!!

  156. to be honest with you, I enjoyed this post.

  157. I really enjoyed this blog. I can relate. I hate it when someone says, ” Not for nothing “…. and then continues. If it is nothing than why are you saying it..???? Ugh ….!!!!

    Congrts … on … Freshly Pressed.

    Isadora

    • I’ve not heard “not for nothing,” but that’s another good one (or bad one, depending one one’s perspective). It’s amazing what people say out of habit. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who notices this kind of thing! Thanks for responding to my blog.

      All the best,

      Lorna

  158. This topic does interest me, but I’ve not heard anyone say the first two examples, and #3 isn’t what I would call improper. I have to speak with people I don’t want to often, and given the choice between making disingenuous small talk and saying something bluntly that may disturb them I will choose to be nice over honest most of the time.

  159. FYI- that’s Darkwing Duck, not a suspicious Donald… you probably knew that, but I thought it warranted mentioning.

    • DIdn’t know that. Thanks for letting me know!

      • You may or may not know that Duck was yeah, no, not Donald but Um, you know, Darkwing, so…..anyway, on with the show this is it! This post pairs perfectly with the one I read yesterday about the confusing statments parents make to children. Language is fascinating and potentially dangerous when ambiguous. Congrats of FP, like you so waaaay deserve it, you know? Oh and the person who replies to a piece of new info with “Really?” as if everyone lies to them all the time and they must double check to be sure they are really getting the truth. (I have been guilt of this but it bothered my son so much when he was younger is trained myself out of it…interestingly, I noticed him doing it lately. Must be the browd he is hanging with.) Have a fabu weekend and (oh here’s a good one that is WORN OUT) “Rock It!” AmberLena

        • Thanks for the encouraging words. And yes, “really” is another one of my bug-a-boos. So is “Are you kidding?” especially after I just told someone some unpleasant news. I mean, really! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and comment on this post!

  160. Great post! I can think of so many other sayings I could add to this list…

  161. Great post and congratulations on being FP! These catchy phrases are like a virus when over-used, an innocent person may come down with them. Two I find irritating:
    “Anyway.” I tell a person something who then says, “Anyway.” (Why not just say, “Stop talking to me”?)
    “Absolutely.” All this catchy word tells me is that basically the speaker is a negative person trying to appear positive. Anyway. If I invite someone over for coffee, just say yes. An enthusiastic ab-so-lutely doesn’t impress me.

    • Ab-so-lutely! I know what you mean! Also totally and the much over-used awesome, as in “awesome hamburger!” Thanks for your comment and perspective. That’s exactly what I was hoping for!

  162. Haha! Love this … I’ve always been a fan of, “Well, if I’m being honest…” — because apparently, this is unusual?
    :)

    Fun post!

    Mikalee

  163. In our family the phrase ‘yeah, not’ has been replaced with ‘sure’. It is said in a slightly drawn out manner – suurre. It is a reply to a question, and it’s meaning is: I know you want me to say yes, so I am saying ‘sure’, but I really mean ‘probably not’…

  164. Ha. Really great post. Made me chuckle a little bit. Never thought about the catch phrases of life, sometimes it’s just laziness that gets in the way. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  165. Yeah, no, to be honest with you, you may or may not know this, but I, like, really need to start listening to myself more carefully.

  166. I love the post because it is right on. One of my biggest linguistic pet peeves is people who do not properly end a sentence. These irritating pin heads just leave it open-ed by tacking on the word “so” at the end of an incomplete sentence – allowing the person they were talking to to only speculate what the heck they were saying.

    I really liked your blog, so…..

    Blessings,

    Ava
    xox

    • That’s a good one. I’ve noticed myself (and a whole lot of others) doing it, too. I’m collecting these linguistic tics, so…

    • I work with a chic that does that, “I’m gonna go to the bank, so… ” GRRR!!!!

    • Ava you’re SO right about “so.” It drives me up the wall and I always call people out on it. “So…. what?”

      Best recent example came from an invite to a friend to join me for dinner. Her response? “Well, I guess I could, but I had a really big lunch so…..” All I could say was, “So… I’ll be there and you can join me if you want.” :)

  167. Thanks!

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