Lorna is at it again, trying to diffuse more linguistic "tics" before they explode. Is it too late?

Almost a year ago I was foolhardycourageous…brilliant enough to highlight a few “linguistic tics” I noticed that had wormed their way into everyday discourse. I only pointed out the nonsensical phrases that others used and made malicious…delicious fun of them. It was so easy. I never used those silly aberrations of proper English language.

Because I’ve had too many sleepless nightsI have rich and lively conversations with myself…I continue to practice my keen semantic observational skills, I noticed several “linguistic tics” of my own. Because I’m not a total wreckrecluse…loner, I’ve noticed the same “tics” in others’ speech patterns as well. Did I pick up these varmints from other people or did they pick them up from me? Given that I hear these patterns from people on television and when visiting people as far away as 15 miles from my home, I’m fairly certain that my sphere of linguistic influence isn’t so powerful that I, alone, created these dialectic monsters…bug-a-boos. But I could be wrong; it’s happened before.

I did not really create you. In a funny way, you created me, my sweet, unpredictable little monster. We didn't mean to fool Mother Nature...I mean English...now, did we?

The List

“I’m here to tell you…” I say this when I’m physically present conversing with someone and have already said what I wanted to say. Example:

I saw the 59th Republican Primary Debate last night. The candidates’ ties were awful. I’m here to tell you, those guys need snazzier ties if they want my vote.

Maybe, just, maybe, saying “I’m here to tell you…” is effective at a religious sermon, a political campaign speech or Weight Watchers’ rally. These are occasions when certain ideas bear repeating for maximum motivational, contextual or theatrical impact. I’m usually not called upon to speak at any of those kinds of gatherings. I’m a one-on-one kind of gal.

Scrappy, when we go for walks, you have to poop. I'm here to tell you, walking isn't all about the sniffing and peeing. Pooping is important.

“Yeah, Yeah.” Wasn’t it not so long ago that I was complaining about…pointing out my confusion about people saying “Yeah. No.”? I’ve heard a lot of “Yeah, Yeah-ing” coming out of my mouth and lots of other mouths, too. Each “yeah” is neutral, sounding neither sarcastic nor dismissive. Example:

  • Me: I thought George Clooney was superbly divine in The Descendants. Handsome as ever, too.
  • Mom: And wasn’t the Hawaiian scenery just beautiful?
  • Me: Yeah. Yeah. Very nice scenery. It was set in Hawaii?

Why did I need the two “yeahs”–isn’t one affirmation enough? Three is certainly overkill, unless you’re aiming to recreate a Beatles classic. And the most important question, asked in memory of my grade-school English teacher, what happened to “yes?”

"She Loves You, Yes, Yes, Yes" just wouldn't have been the same. Sorry Grade-School English Teacher. You died poor, but your dying words were spoken in proper English; the same probably can't be said of most British Rock Band Legends.

“Oh, really?” or “Do you really think so?” This one really annoys me. I do it all the time—other do, too. Either phrase has become my reflex  response to nearly every declarative statement aimed in my direction. Examples:

  • Friend at Casual Lunch: Yes, she was a wonderful talent, but I think the news is making such a big deal over Whitney Huston’s death because they want to distract people from the complex problems confronting America.
  • Me: Do you really think so? Is this a stall tactic, forcing the ball back into my friend’s court while my dilapidated mind shifts from “park” into “first gear?” Sheesh! I just wanted to talk about my blog and have a salad.
  • Phil: It looks like it’s going to be a nice day.
  • Me: Oh, really? Am I inferring I need more data before I believe him? If “Phil” was also the name of the local meteorologist and he told me the forecast, I would have good cause to be suspicious, but why should I have any reason to disbelieve my beloved Phil? If he says it’s going to be a nice day, he could mean something other than the weather. Yes, really.
  • Me: That shirt looks great on you.
  • George Clooney: Do you really think so? Might he be showing me his insecurities? I hope his insecurities aren’t the only things that…wait, this was just hypothetical to illustrate that other people say this, too. Phil is the only person I want showing me anything. Yes, really.

How about it, friends? Do these sound familiar? What new “linguistic tics” have you noticed?

Don't be shy. Spill your beans. I did.