Like, you know? Right?
Oh yeah, I, like, I, I’m doing these interviews for a class, right? And I, and after I interview people, I’m interviewing people on the role of religion in their lives and then I have to transcribe the interviews and I can’t, well, I can’t blog about the contents of the interviews, you know, because I didn’t get informed, informed consent for that, you know? And transcribing, [laugh], transcribing is probably my least favorite part of the research, of the research process. But it has to be done, you know?
Enough of that. Please Darwin, let it end. The truth is, though, that we speak very differently than we write. We don’t actually speak in sentences, and if we did it would seem strange and stilted. We don’t actually speak in discrete words, either. Listen to someone speaking a language you don’t understand and you’ll find yourself unable to recognize where one word ends and another begins. English is no different, we can just recognize the words because we know them, but we don’t actually say whole and complete words, rather we slur them into each other.
Moreover, we have these strange linguistic tics, my wife had a teacher once who referred to them as word whiskers. You never realize how often people say things like “You know?” or “Right?” in conversation until it falls on you to listen to these conversations and transcribe them. Everyone does it, unlike “like” which seems to be a bit of a generational thing. “You know?” and “like” have different uses, though, the latter being just another form of “um” or “uh,” to take up space while thinking of the next thing to say, while the former (along with “right?”) is almost another, less annoying version of uptalk.
Oh, uptalk. You know what I’m talking about. Listen to an amateur lecturer, like a class presentation, and there will always be someone, or more someones than not, who end speak each sentence as a question: “So, Marx wrote Capital in 1867? And in it he talks about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat? And the bourgeoisie are the rich people who own the factories and the proletariat are the workers?” This has the effect of making the speaker sound unsure and like they’re asking for approval or agreement. Women do it more than men, making women sound more and more like they don’t know what they’re talking about even if the content of their sentences is correct. So, the moral of this tangent is “Don’t Do It. Say No To Uptalk.”
Anyway, I think that “you know?” and “right?” serve some of the same purposes of uptalk (getting your listener to identify with you, letting your listener know that you aren’t done talking so please don’t cut you off, and making sure your listener is following you and still paying attention) without as much of the “I don’t know what I’m talking about so I’m going to avoid declarative sentences” vibe of uptalk. It’s more of a “This is what I believe, do you understand? I had this experience, have you?”
Of course, as the interviewer, I have my own annoying tics, primarily “Oh, that’s cool,” “Cool,” “Yeah,” and “Wow, that’s cool.” As the interviewer, though, we aren’t here to talk about me. So, what religion do you identify with? That’s cool, can you tell me more about it?