There’s an interesting article on Yahoo at the moment, titled ‘what your verbal fillers say about you’. Have a read – it’s quite entertaining, in a roundabout way.
It lists some of those verbal fillers that crop up in day-to-day conversation: ‘innit’, ‘basically’, ‘actually’ and ‘you know’. The implication here is that we, the readers, are all the most accomplished deipnosophists and therefore above such conversational balderdash. The truth, however, is that almost everyone uses them. Indeed, I think I’ve used all of them at some point and, while I’m not exactly proud of myself for doing so, I recognise their necessity. Must we choose every word we utter carefully? How much of our speech is really necessary? Let’s have a look at some of these nonsense phrases.
‘Y’know’ and ‘like’
These two expressions are more commonly employed in North America, especially by sportsmen and hip-hop artists. But let’s be honest, people don’t become successful in those professions on account of their scintillating patter now, do they? Trademarks of the average mind they may be, but at least there’s nothing passive-aggressive or conceited about them.
If you’ve spent more than 48 hours in England, the chances are you’ve heard this one. How we love to open our sentences with this word, only to contradict its very meaning! I agree with the author Random House that it is all too often followed by an unstructured ramble. Nevertheless, I rather like it. I use it because my peers do so; thus I am using the same vernacular. This is a form of social bonding, much like mirroring someone’s body language or wearing similar clothes. We are only human, after all. Indeed, if I didn’t open up with ‘basically’ when trying to explain something as simply as possible, I may run the risk of sounding pretentious or robotic.
Uh-oh! Here’s a danger word. This is used at the beginning of a sentence by pedantic nerds when correcting the mistakes of others. Yes, it is irritating and yes, you may well dislike us for using it. But why did we use it in the first place? Because some people are so fucking stupid that we need to grab their attention with this interjection in order to enlighten them. Idiots annoy the hell out of me. If you ignore them, they carry on spouting their ignorant, lazy assumptions, factual inaccuracies and urban legends, so that they spread to others like influenza. Intellectuals have a moral duty to arrest this plague of imbecility, and ‘actually’ is a weapon in our arsenal. The other weapons are the word ‘technically’, baseball bats, Bowie knives and Smith & Wesson .45 pistols.
‘Innit, ja’mean, yeah?’
The unholy trinity of urban patois. I say ‘innit’ on an alarmingly regular basis. Why? Because I come from the South of England and that is what we say. It may sound ugly to outsiders, but here in the Estuary English universe, we’re stuck with it. I also say ‘know what I mean?’ once in a blue moon, but I can hold my head up high, knowing that I haven’t eroded it into the loathsome abbreviation ‘ja’mean’. This is a favoured expression among Anglo-Pakistanis. If you’re ever unfortunate enough to travel through Slough, you will hear this as surely as night follows day. Every conversation I’ve heard from those greasy, retarded scumbags has been peppered with ‘innit, ja’mean, yeah?’ or ‘ja’mean, innit, yeah?’ Random House put it more delicately, suggesting cognitive confusion. Oh, they’re confused, all right.
Here are some other expressions that were missed out in the article.
‘At the end of the day’
This one’s worse than ‘basically’, as it means absolutely nothing. Never use this one in a job interview, posh dinner party or when dating the woman/man of your dreams. Unless, of course, you really are referring to the evening or night.
At face value, it means simply ‘I don’t know’. Fair enough; not even Socrates knew everything. However, when an individual uses this frequently, it suggests (to my mind) one of two things. Reason one: the speaker is being honest and really is that stupid. Reason two: the speaker is trying to fob you off because he can’t be bothered with an answer. In that sense, therefore, ‘dunno’ is a polite way of saying ‘shut your cakehole, bitch! For once in my life, can’t I eat my dinner in peace?’ Married men, whether stupid or intelligent, say ‘dunno’ an awful lot.
This is my bullshit word. I use it whenever my relatives hassle me about getting a career. ‘Blah blah blah, Spideron, blah blah blah, proactive, etc.’ ‘Absolutely!’ It makes me sound professional and switched-on, when in reality I want to tell them to mind their own business and stop tormenting me. But that wouldn’t be polite now, would it?
I think it’s supposed to be a loud and obnoxious full-stop, which would explain why only the most detestable chavs say it.
I can’t think of any other examples right now, as it is nap-time. Feel free to contribute your own, dear reader.