At the very real risk of seeming obnoxious …

Me: jesus h. i am so frustrated? with this new style of speech? that seems to be everywhere these days? that i want to cry.
Someone Else: where did you just hear it?
Someone Else: is simon speaking in questions now?!
Me: once you know what to listen for, you hear it EVERYWHERE.
Me: no, he isn’t.
Me: he’s very proper.
Me: i hear it on shows, in ads, on the subway.
Me: i wonder if they talk like that on Gossip Girl or something.
Me: it seems like a new thing. i’d like to identify the source.
Someone Else: i think it’s been around since long before GG
Someone Else: it has annoyed me for years and years
Someone Else: though, actually, i haven’t heard a good example of it in a while
Me: “If you look at this graph? you’ll see a downturn here? and that’s what we want to address.”
Me: blech!
Me: speak like adults, people!
Me: perhaps i should make that my new mission: to encourage adults to think about how they sound.
Me: i would like women to learn to speak like women, and not like little girls.
Someone Else: i think that that mission might make people think you were obnoxious
Me: declarative sentences? should not end with an interrogatory inflection.

Dear Everyone,

I have noticed a disturbing trend in vocal inflections that merits your immediate attention: uttering declarative sentences, and sometimes mere clauses within sentences, as if they were questions. You have surely heard it, too:

  • “It’s like everyone I was going to ask? Already had plans? So I just didn’t bother.”
  • “I was like trying to follow the flow of things? But then I realized I didn’t know what people were talking about? And so I tuned out.”
  • “When I re-read the numbers? It looks like we might need to revise our strategy.”
  • “I like the ones with peanut butter? And chocolate? They’re really good.

It’s like everyone in the whole world? Has lost all sense of conviction? In what they’re saying. And it really, really annoys me.

If you’re reading this now, I ask that you evaluate your own speech patterns. If you find that you do this — and readers, I freely admit I’m guilty many times over — please make every effort to stop. Like Typhoid Mary, most of us probably aren’t even aware we’re infected, and that’s how it’s spread so far, so fast.

Also, should you identify the problem in someone you know, please do the right thing and bring it to his or her attention. Because really? We need to stop talking like Valley Girls and regain some poise.

Thank you.

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