Repeating Myself Myself

Thursday, August 31, 2006 | 9:41 am

Language patterns are a funny thing, the way we fall into habits with certain catch-phrases is something that helps us embrace our particular slice of immediate culture, but also becomes a converstional standby, pulled out to smooth over the stutters that may normally be an "ummmm...", or (god forbid)—silence.

I find myself in certain moods where I try to listen to "what I say" rather than just how it is being received. For a while there, it was needed to monitor how often I was using the word "like". For someone with a fairly reasonable grasp of the English language, it was far too often. I wasn't breaking out into full Valley Girl such as "like, really?" or "like, awesome", but it was still turning up too regularly. Pauses were the enemy though, a scary-slice of empty air where someone might cut in with something else to say, removing that which we all crave, the conversational focus.


Once I noticed my habitual dependency on "like", I started paying attention to others use of same. The trick then becomes actually concentrating on the words that are being spoken by someone when you are mentally ticking off their conversational crutches. It's an "NCE" - negative conversational experience.

This comes up today because last night I caught 15 minutes of a documentary called American Rap Stars. It was interesting to me because this is not a style of music I grew up with in 80's Australia, so the cultural reasons behind it always seems predictable, yet strangely foreign to me. I joined the documentary in time for an impromptu interview with Ludacris talking about what the rap lifestyle means to rappers. I was immediately distracted by the term "d'ya know what I'm sayin'?"*. The counter in my head started to pop and my attention went to that phrase, even as 'Cris was tryin' to point out to me how language was an identifying factor of his art-culture. I was too distracted and lost track of the (somewhat meaningless) point he was making. My miserable Gen-X television attention span expired, and I changed channel.

It was only later that the irony struck me. Because of that phrase, I no longer knew what he was saying.

* Note - I insert the question mark there with some trepidation, as at no point did I get the impression it was posted as an actual question; rhetorical at best. And never did anyone on the receiving end answer "nope, I have no idea".

Edit: corrected pronunciation for Erika.


At 31/8/06 9:49 pm, Blogger erika said...

Is there a d' in front of the phrase? I always thought it was more of a "ya know what i'm sayin'" as in "you are on the same page as I am, YOU know what I'm saying."

At 31/8/06 9:51 pm, Blogger erika said...

ok I just clicked the link. The definition says it's "To let the person your [sic] addressing understand what you mean." Not "to ASK if the person you're addressing understands what you're saying"

At 31/8/06 11:35 pm, Blogger Aussie-Askew said...

I still maintain it is said with the inflection of a question (flying in the face of The American Urban Dictionary...)


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