There are many things that keep me up at night – the state of the economy, the scandals splashed across the headlines each day, global warming – but the one thing that grates upon my nerves above all else is how some people express themselves.
Years ago, when Richard Pryor began salting his stage monologue with “Motha-f****”, we were shocked, revolted even. Since then, comedians have gotten us to laugh at words that would have earned getting your mouth washed out with soap. Fast-forward to today and it is rare to hear someone not put the F word at some point during a conversation.
Perhaps I have become desensitized to the cuss words that have become a part of our daily language because I hardly take notice of them anymore. I do wonder, though, what word or phrase someone will use when the occasion arises to let out a good curse.
Cursing aside, there is one thing that bothers me above all else and that is the words “Like” and “Y’know”. Those words at the beginning, middle, and end of every sentence grate upon my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.
This morning on the train, a young woman sat down, took out her phone, and began talking to her friend. I don’t normally eavesdrop, but I could not help hanging on to her every word. Part of the conversation went something like this:
“Like, I can’t believe I was asked to go to L.A. for that y’know project. It’s like a really big deal and y’know everyone was like hoping to like go. I know like it’s going to be like over the y’know like holidays, but who like cares, y’know? Like, I’ll be in like L.A.!”
The phone call went on for another few minutes and the final tally was 28 Likes and 19 Y’knows. I can only guess that an equal number of similar words was being used on the other end of the conversation. It makes me wonder, why do some people need to use these words? Are they a natural pause created by the mouth as it waits for the brain to catch up?
I cannot imagine Kennedy, Lincoln, or King using them in their greatest speeches, and yet today no one thinks anything of it. It makes me wonder if, in the not so distant future, a newly elected President starts the Inaugural speech with “Y’know like …”