I have identified a new language phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.
I mean, I’ve noticed that a lot of people – myself included – have started adding superfluous words when they talk. I mean, it’s not really a big deal since, like, most teenagers already have, like, you know, been adding meaningless words to their conversation for a couple of decades, dude, you know.
But, I mean, I’ve heard this superfluous phrase coming from people who would choke on the “like” or “you know” if it entered their conversation.
For example, in discussion String Theory on Nova… PBS fer chrissakes!
NOVA: Have you ever had doubts about string theory?
Greene: All the time! I mean, it is a very strange research career, in a way. So far I’ve spent something like 17 years working on a theory for which there is essentially no direct experimental support. It’s a very precarious way to live and to work.
BUFFETT: I feel better. I mean, I love that investment because we have $5 billion in a preferred paying us 10 percent.
Greta Van Sustern used it nine times in her interview with Maverick:
What is your — meaning the federal government’s — problem? I mean, what don’t you get about it? You tell us, but you don’t do anything!
As usual, it’s the jocks that sprinkle this into their conversations most often, using “I mean” instead of saying Um, they are now saying “I mean…”
I’m not one of those who would choke if I misuse the language, I do it all the time. I mean, I am now aware of this one misuse and it’s starting to irritate the hell out of me. I mean, especially when I use it. I can’t control how others talk. I mean, I can only be aware of how I misuse the language and try to change.
You know, I mean, I’m talking, finish my thought, but don’t want to stop running my mouth, so I say, “I mean…” and say basically the same damn thing again!
Or, (and this happens a lot with pundits) they will make their point and add “I mean” just to work in another sound bite.
I don’t know what these words (“like”, “you know”, “I mean”) are called as a group. I mean I’m not sure if they have such a descriptive term like tautology or pleonasm. I have consulted Language Boy to see what he has to say.
He may email me, in which case I will update, or he may comment. I mean I’ll be sure to report back to you so that, like, you know, you can work this new definition into your conversation. I will be dropping tautologistic and pleonastic into the conversation at LeClub la Pony later today.
- Boy, that horse sure can run speedy fast.
- Take a look-see at the gigantic big hat on that diminutive tiny short dwarf midget jockey.
- Is this the same sloppy mud they use at the spa?
- Make my julep an extra large double grande, but hold the ice and the syrup and mint leaves.
- I had advance warning this thoroughbred race horse would cross the finish line first and win.
Know whut I mean, Vern?
Don’t confuse, “I mean” with “know what I mean?” That’s was a cultural touchstone for us boomers.
I mean, if this group of meaningless words has no etymology what are your suggestion? Know whut I mean?
UPDATE: Here’s what Language-Boy responded:
We used to call those interjections, but now they’re referred to as filler words.