Posted in Of Culturel

Of This and That


I completely sabotaged an interview once by overusing the expression, “you know”. As far as popular expressions go, it is probably the most stupid of them all. What does “you know” even mean, you know? If you have to make a rhetorical statement, though the implication of that statement may, in fact, be not known to the person at the other end, the expression hardly makes it better. I say, it is like a contagious disease. Which you know like, is like, totally possible, like, you know?

But, I have other expressions in my arsenal too. I get embarrassed once I realise I’ve used that expression too many times, which only makes me more nervous and use it again and again. That was the case of that “you know” interview, where I’m sure my tally must have been 128 in 20 minutes. Oscar Wilde, universally recognised master conversationalist and the subject of the case I was trying to make to get myself hired, must have turned in literary heaven and said to me, “No, Ms. Sarkar. I am afraid I don’t know, and neither does this panel of nine academics of the English language. However, I would very much like you to stop sullying my work in this mystical pool of knowledge that no one has, or ever will have, for it does not exist.”

There has been “this and that”. I’ve never known what “this” was, or for that matter, “that”. There was “as simple as that”, used too frequently for situations that were neither simple, nor akin to any “that”. There are too many “that’s” in general. There are far too many “really’s”, which 99.99999999999% of the time aren’t all that real. There’s the classic “like”, but who could ever escape that since the rise of Television? There’s “hey”, “hi” and “yeah”, “yup” and “nah”, “nope” because, of course, “How are you?” and “Yes” and “No” are such cumbersome expressions to use. I’ve managed to resist current expressions like “random”, “basic”, “yolo”, “lol” and even “selfie” (I just say the archaic “picture”) but I’m sure any of these are sure to rear their heads, too many times, when an important situation would be making me nervous. B*tches, I’m totally deaded.

Now, I’m not insisting on using the English language as if I was a character in a Regency novel. But, it’s not easy to just switch off the modern lingo when you are in a serious environment. When you want to make the impression that you know what you are talking about, and just because you are nervous, it doesn’t mean you are an idiot. But, if there are any neuroscientists reading this, I would urge you to explore the correlation between social anxiety, and the brain’s process of coping with that anxiety by making you resort to consciously embarrass yourself, as if the unconscious routine self-embarrassment wasn’t enough. It’s adorable and attractive in the female lead of a romantic comedy film. But, not in real life.

What words/expressions do you overuse? Are there any that irritate you?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

9 thoughts on “Of This and That

  1. Your title has got a song stuck in my head. I always loved School House Rocks when I was a kid and I can remember a line from “Conjunction Junction”. “And: that’s an additive, like ‘this’ and ‘that’….” 🙂

    I try to be conscientious when switching back and forth between formal speech and slang. I can get very slang-y if I don’t watch myself. But I have “work mode” I go into that works as my filter.

    I can remember taking speech in high school and college – not my favorite class AT ALL – and there was always some poor guy who started every sentence with “And, um…”. Probably due to nerves.

    Interesting topic!

    1. Thanks! I do a lot of the “ah’s” and “um’s”. And I talk even more as I get nervous. I try and be more Edwardian in serious environments. But, I guess the slang comes from a compulsive need to crack jokes, i.e. make puns etc. It is what has kept me from putting up podcasts and videos on my blog, because I know that I will just nervously talk for hours!

  2. I’ve realized a friend of mine says “kind of”, “like”, “maybe”, and “I guess” very frequently, especially when expressing an opinion. It’s fascinating how someone’s speech really shows their character. My friend, who used those phrases when leading a club, seemed shy, not assertive at all, and almost cautious. It makes me wonder how my speech patterns reveals my personality.

    1. I find that fascinating too! Speech, coupled with body language and habits, can reveal so much about a person unintentionally. I know someone who says a ton of “kind of’s” but I’ve grown used to it. She is very intelligent and perceptive, so even if she betrays nervousness in her speech, I try not to let it bother me.

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