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?