… And Stuff Like That.
I’ve been noticing silly, annoying, or just plain strange things people say without thinking (because if they were thinking, they probably wouldn’t say these things). Yup, I’m at it again.
I call them “linguistic tics”–the verbal equivalent of twirling your hair or biting your nails. You just say certain words or phrases habitually, without realizing that it kind of makes you sound like a doofus. Only you’re not. I should know because I noticed that I say some of this crap and I’m certainly not a doofus.
I’m trying to save you from that kind of embarrassment. You’re welcome.
Including Punctuation in Your Speech So The Listener is Perfectly Clear That You Know Your Colon from a Hole in the Ground
This is not a new phenomenon. As a mother and a college professor, I’ve been known to say something like, “I don’t care what time you went to bed, it’s never okay to fall asleep while I’m telling you something important. Period.” In my defense, saying “period” may have been necessary because my son and the student(s) may not have heard the end of my sentence due to narcolepsy.
Saying “slash” out loud when not describing an episode of Dexter: I first noticed it while watching home improvement shows in which people went on and on about their “living room slash dining room” or their “basement slash meth lab.” That last example may have come from another type of show, but maybe not. Then I heard all sorts of people slashing things. ”It’s our vacation slash family reunion.” ”She’s my friend slash mentor.” ”He’s my handyman slash husband.” ”I’m a writer slash wrists.” (Ignore that last one. It’s insensitive and a poor example of what I’m talking slash writing about.) What’s next? It probably won’t be the semicolon; hardly anyone knows what that thing is or how to use it.
Saying “quote, unquote”: We all know about “air quotes,” right? People will often accompany this international sarcastic sign language with the phrase, “quote, unquote.” Example: “Can you believe, Lorna? She actually thinks she’s quote, unquote a funny blogger. I only subscribed to her blog so she would subscribe to mine. I never read her stuff. It’s awful.” There are many things wrong with this example.
- No one would actually say this.
- Saying “quote, unquote” doesn’t leave any verbal space for the actual quote, so whatever that lying, fart-knocker just said about me isn’t in quotes at all. It’s not in unquotes either. Serves them right.
“Many” might have been an overstatement, but I was offended.
The Apparent Reluctance to End Your Sentences For Reasons Even You Probably Don’t Understand
Ending sentences with so…: “The grocery store was a freaking zoo today…so…” And then you stop. ”I made salad for lunch…so…” I wait, but nothing more follows. ”I decided this relationship isn’t working for me and I’m moving out…so…” Silence. For an uncomfortably long time. Is there more you want to tell me and I have to beg for details? Is that the game we’re playing? Did you want to stay in control of the dialog and you’re just waiting for the next set of synapses to fire? Have you forgotten how to formulate a declarative sentence? Are you just trying to drive me bonkers?
Ending sentences with and stuff like that: “I just read the most interesting book about Jeffrey Dahmer and stuff like that.” Dear Lord, I hope there isn’t a lot more stuff like that to read about. ”We’re getting together with the family this weekend and stuff like that.” What does that mean? Depending on whose family and what stuff, I could be in for good times or I might need sedatives. ”The forecast is looking like the humidity will finally lift by the weekend and stuff like that.” Our local meteorologist said that one. I guess “stuff” is a highly technical term in the meteorology business.
Step Away From The Prefaces Before Anyone Else Gets Confused
Personally, …: When someone asks your opinion, it’s not necessary to begin by saying “Personally, I think …”; just start with “I think…” There’s one exception to this rule. If you have the super-power of omniscience, then you’ll need to qualify whether you are offering your own opinion or the opinion of every sentient creature. In that one case, it’s your duty to say, “Personally, I think Thai food is much better than Chinese take-out, but I’m speaking for myself, not every sentient creature even though I can because I have the super-power of omniscience.” (Note: If you are omniscient, I have a bunch of questions I’d like to ask you and stuff like that. Call me, okay?)
When all is said and done,…: When you start a sentence this way, you just contradicted yourself. Example: ”When all is said and done, there’s going to be one heck of a mess to clean up around here.” (That came from the same weather guy talking about a storm coming our way. It didn’t. There wasn’t. He’s still the Chief Meteorologist.) Apparently “all” wasn’t said or done. Think about it.
Can I ask you just one question?: Sure! Asked and answered. Moving on now. (Hint: Avoid trial law as your career choice.)