I know, wrong?

i_know_right_-_Google_SearchEvery generation has its annoying catch phrases.  The valley girls and their wannabes famously sprinkled every sentence with “like.”  More recently,  “not so much” has been used ad nauseum to express disapproval or disagreement.

“Whatever!”  It’s not “all good.” Admittedly, often it’s “my bad,” “yada yada.”

I have a house full of teens and young adults these days, so I’m particularly aware of a prevalent catch phrase.  When I assert something that meets with the youngsters’ agreement, a rare event, they invariably respond with “I know, right?”

The main problem with this, or any catch phrase, is that I know it’s only a matter of time before I hear those words coming out of my mouth.  Catch phrases are contagious that way.

I desperately don’t want to let this phrase into my lexicon, because it particularly irritates me.  It makes no sense to respond to an assertion with a question about whether the assertion is correct.

My mama taught me that it is polite to respond to direct questions.  So, it strikes me that the “right?” part of the response requires a response, which leads to mind-numbing exchanges such as this:

Me:  “The Twins starting pitching is crappy.”

Youngster:  “I know, right?”

Me:  “Right.  That’s why I just said it.”

Youngster:  “I know, right?”

Me:  (stink eye)

I know, it’s not really a question.  But then, why include the “right?” part.

I guess this is the “everyone gets a ribbon” generation that we raised.  Even when they are agreeing with us, they need still more affirmation that agreement is acceptable.


– Loveland

75 thoughts on “I know, wrong?

  1. I believe the best defense is a good offense.

    try hitting them first with a few all-purpose lines like:

    “I am the one who knocks”.

    “Tread lightly”.

    “Calmer than you are”

    Or …

    “Careful Man, there’s a Beverage Here.”

  2. Dennis Lang says:

    Man, this is troubling. Since as I recall vaguely from my distant college days, language and semantics are grounded deeply in the way we think and perceive reality, can’t help but have grave concern for this generation and the messed up world they’re destined to create with muddled half declarative/ half interogatory sentence structure. Sad, very sad….

    1. bertram jr. says:

      And look no futher for the same cunning linguism than the average Star Tribune “Glance” column….

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        Heck, I like the expression “cunning linguism”! Poetic. Good one Bertram Jr.
        (With great regret both dailies cancelled in budgetary move. Do miss the AM delivery of ink on paper even as quality and comprehensiveness suffered while subscription rates grew.)

  3. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Such geezer-dumb. It strikes me as a nicely inclusive phrase that fosters social cohesion. If they leave it at, “I know,” it comes off as rather curt and possibly off putting. Sure, the kids could say, “I agree.” But I don’t have a problem with this informal speech in the course of conversation, something that must be cultivated to be sustained.

    Language isn’t being diluted of meaning the way it is with adult and kid alike bleeding “amazing” of any ongoing meaning. “I just had an amazing smoothie. You look amazing. Sooo amazing…”

    The Brits have this linguistic tick, ending a declaration with a question: “Doesn’t really interfere with apprehending the intended meaning, though, does it”? And, in fairness (a favorite Irish phrase), they have sucked the vitality from the word, “brilliant” the way we have with “amazing.”

    I’m often the first to go all pedantic about abuse of language, but this strikes me as harmless.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Holy straw man, I said I find it irritating, not a threat to humanity!

      When I go “all pedantic,” I don’t tend to tag the post “humor,” “diversion,” and “fun.”

      I’m laughing at all of us and our goofy little language trends we cycle through. No jail sentences were proposed or intended.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        See, even as you tread on the amusing surface you have opened a vein of conjecture into the very core of our culture. Think the later films of Chaplin: “Modern Times”, “Great Dictator” etc.

    2. Jim Leinfelder says:

      As if… I was, like, totally (well, mainly) givin’ a holla back to the two above piling-on posters. But, dude, you did, like, go all 5-0 n’at calling out the kids for this linguistic leavening style.

      I’m not aware of anyone with his/her nose out of joint about informal speech trends calling for actual sanctions. That generally IS the sanction.

      As for all those qualifying “tags,” I musta’ missed ’em. I was just going by the text.

  4. “It is what it is” is a phrase that gained currency during the late 90s and has stuck around. I find it useful as a verbal shoulder shrug and a more polite version of “Shit happens”.

    Other favs, mostly best forgotten:

    “Where’s the beef?”
    “Don’t be that guy”
    “Talk to the hand”
    “First world/rich guy/white girl/etc. problems”
    “Keep calm and carry on”

    – Austin

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      The obsolescence cycle is mighty fast these days. A couple of the ones you nominate for retirement haven’t even reached my ears yet.

      “Who knew?”

          1. “An early adopter or lighthouse customer is an early customer of a given company, product, or technology; in politics, fashion, art, and other fields, this person would be referred to as a trendsetter. The term originates from Everett M. Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (1962).[1]”

            But Austin is, I’m told, very adaptable.

            1. bertram jr. says:

              Well, Jim, what it’s really about is what is right and what is wrong.

              That never changes…..

              I’d happily inhabit Montana1948.

              (Cue: “Feelings”)

            2. Jim Leinfelder says:

              You do realize there is a book by that name, right? Given that you are a tall, handsome, intelligent, white male (none of those gifts earned), I guess I could understand your selective nostalgia. I recommend, though, you read the book and try and surrender to the power of literature’s ability to get us to see things from behind someone else’s eyes:


    2. Erik Petersen says:

      The power and the prevalence of a lot of these can I think be tied back to SNL in many cases. Beyond that, I have been astounded at surfer speak has been integrated into common speech.

      And now, theres Twitter.

            1. PM says:

              If you want another example, look at accents in language, as well as slang. The differences in South African English, Australian, Indian, US, etc. Those all started out as the same, yet continue to diverge, despite the creation of instantaneous voice communications. The way that South African English (see http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/english-in-use/south-african-english/) continues to diverge by adding more from Afrikaans (see this for an example: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/dieantwoord/entertheninja.html ) and Zulu and Xhosa.

              I travel to South Africa a lot, and am continually amazed at how South African English is evolving–not only are there additions from the US (which we are discussing here), but there are all sorts of additions from other South African languages. South African English is not becoming more and more like US English, despite the addition of some US origined phrases.

              The phenomena that joe posted about does not exist in a vacuum. Some differences change, others rise up to replace them. I do think that regionally defined differences are, on the whole, disappearing, For example, in food: you don’t have to go to Japan to eat sushi, now you can eat sushi in johannesburg. So that difference is no longer a regional difference, but is a difference in the variety of restaurants that are offered in a region. It used to be that cuisine was local–no longer. But the difference has not disappeared, it is just no longer defined regionally. You can find the same amount of difference on Nicollet Ave. instead. Which is a change that I applaud.

            2. Jim Leinfelder says:

              Hmmm, good question, Erik, albeit insulting. Emo, whatever that actually is, did not exist in my distant youth. There didn’t seem to be so many divisions when I was a kid. I crossed over most of the divisions that did exist: stoners, jocks, smart kids, hoods, whatever. Got along with most everyone.

              But what I mourn is not the emergence and then co-opting of kid language fads. Hey, Ice Cube pimps for Coors. Word. As PM says, he’s been replaced.

              I’m talking about being in a small Wyoming town and seeing kids aping hip hop fads. I’m talking about traveling the country and struggling to find anything that signifies where I am. It’s boring.


            3. Erik Petersen says:

              That’s not an insult, and I will go further to say that the mods here can be assured of some gentility from me. Your writer’s tone suffers from an absence of mirth.

              I don’t know how it is a progressive (philosophically or politically) romanticizes / nostalgiacizes regionalism. Regionalism can only be maintained a dystopic ludditism. Under the circumstances, it’s not worth much contemplation.

            4. Erik Petersen says:

              Holy get off my lawn with the hop hop. Thing is, hip hop is not assaulting regionalism. It did, and it’s over. Hip Hop won. Hip hop is now fully integrated into the nation’s cultural fabric.

            5. PM says:

              I don’t think it is boring. Look at the flip side for an instant.

              I actually love the fact that i can have a conversation about Somalia with a Somalian without having to go to Somalia. I love the fact that i went to a wedding in the Twin Cities the other weekend where the bride (whose parents were born in Cambodia) and the groom (whose parents were born in South Africa) had a reception at a Chinese restaurant. i think that it is great that there are 80 some different languages spoken in the Mpls public school system. Think of the exposure that your kids can have to other cultures in their local school! I love that i can eat at all types of different restaurants without having to travel the world.

              Sure, i get it that we are losing a lot of quaint towns, and a McDonalds on very corner is not my idea of beautiful scenery. And i really don’t care all that much for Stuckeys or Waffle House (interstate highway rest stops are the worst examples of this sort of thing). But I don’t think that we are in danger of becoming one giant Mall of America, either. Despite the doomsayers, the Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis are both thriving.

              Yes, there are costs, but change is, on the whole, good.

            6. Jim Leinfelder says:

              I’ve nothing against hip-hop. It’s homogenization I dislike. Kids sagging and fronting in that rural context is dispiriting to me because it’s so inauthentic. They are not urban kids. They’re rustics and they’re turning their backs on their perfectly legitimate, authentic lived reality for a pre-packaged faux one fed to them through a cable or over a satellite downlink.

              There’s nothing to be done, of course. But I still dislike it.

            7. Dennis Lang says:

              You know the substance of this spirited conversation hardly matters at this point. It seems to be filling up my inbox. What does is that even a throw-away post by Loveland can’t help but draw a crowd (Crowd as is Same Rowdy). Nice.work.

            8. Dennis Lang says:

              Yes, of course. Like the Picasso of bloggers, that rare ability to reduce complex cultural nuances imbedded out-of-sight to most to their minimalist theoretical essence. I’m blabbering. Out to replenish my tan.

            9. Erik Petersen says:

              Sayeth Jim: Rural white kids should act like the uncool hayseeds they always have been, and not try to be hip like city kids.

              That’s parody, but maybe is constructed in such a way to identify why I think that’s such an odd perspective.

              I think the influence of hip-hop has stopped growing. It’s now youtube, games, and anime.

            10. Erik Petersen says:

              My falls trips to ND are impending. I suspect there’s a multitude of spots where I’ll still be able to order knefla soup.

            11. Jim Leinfelder says:

              Fine, I stand corrected. Sameness, homogeneity, bland conformity is a laudable goal. Saves us from going anywhere.

            12. Erik Petersen says:

              Rubber Rodeo is not a proper analogy. But thanks, I had not seen that before, and think it’s awesome. I’ve gravitated to a synthy / new wavy thing that I was not into at the time when this came out.

              Alright Jim. That’s repugnant stuff. Too menacing, for one. But I think that’s in fact your beef. Not that’s its too urban.

            13. Erik Petersen says:

              I don’t have cable, but I hear Duck Dynasty and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo have been positive reinforcements to the esteem / image of country people. And I say that somewhat seriously, as they were both reviewed positively in Slate.

            14. Jim Leinfelder says:

              I have cable, but have not seen either, but that zeitgeisty sort of awareness has wormed its way in, nonetheless. Well, whatever gets ’em through the night, I suppose.

        1. Erik Petersen says:

          I agree.

          My own children’s speech and dialect is perfect, and they don’t use any language that gets on my nerves. They do say ‘dude’ a lot, which I find incongruous for pre-teens.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Hey, I was just being responsive to your song request. I aim to please.

      In all seriousness, can anyone name a worse song than that one? I can’t listen for more than 20 seconds without stopping it.

  5. Steve Titterud says:

    Here’s one that no one mentioned. This response, which leaves some kind of vague, unspecified burden on the listener, is seemingly universal amongst the younger set, and is in response to almost any statement or request which has never, in all history, been a problem:

    “No problem.”

  6. Erik Petersen says:

    <- pop tarts post

    Democrats and this administration have ideological antipathy towards the idea of a vibrant consumption economy. If they’d wanted one, they could have legislated for one in 2009 – 2010. They choose the ACA instead. So this idea of Republican obstruction to growth is laughable.

  7. Erik Petersen says:

    <- pop tarts post

    Re ‘investment’ or lack thereof. The 2012 election brought out a fairly well articulated argument on corporate taxes. At least C corp taxes. The Republicans are for corporate tax reform. And so is the President. So there is consensus there on corporate tax reforms potential as a job creator. But the obvious impediment is that the President and Democrats are insincere. They want to do reform but without actual reform.

  8. Erik Petersen says:

    <- pop tarts post

    Most Republicans would I think acknowledge that the President is not now a socialist, and is at the least a reluctant market economy guy. It remains an interesting question when he might have stopped being a socialist. Maybe before his senate run?

  9. Erik Petersen says:

    <- pop tarts post

    Renewables isn’t a growth industry. By definition, if you have to subsidize it, it’s not a growth industry. If it can’t be built to scale, it’s not a growth industry.
    Keystone baby.

  10. Erik Petersen says:

    <- pop tarts post

    Re the Packer article. You guys probably feel a little dissonant now, but you Obots will no doubt fall in line when the President decides to bomb. I’m sure we’ll see glowing wonkblog articles on the bombings.

  11. Erik Petersen says:

    Brian won’t add my comments, he deletes them.

    This isn’t the comment moderation policy that was anguished over and articulated some months ago. It’s quite a bit more selective, capricious, and petty in practice.

    Joe, Jon – please remove comment moderation. You have my vow of good conduct.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I think the policy is that each individual post author modrates and decides which comments are acceptable to them. We dont require full names here, as I do at another blog I write.

      1. My eyes glaze over at the thought of another “comments policy” debate. Everyone who writes here can moderate as they please. My policy is that I require not just “a name” but a real name … that can be verified. I know who the anonymous posters really are … and who are not who they claim to be. If someone insists their nom de blog is actually them … send along a street address.

        1. Joe Loveland says:

          Two issues:

          1) WE’RE NOT DEBATING THE POLICY AGAIN. A couple of folks have posted their opinions about the SRC comments moderation policy, but we’re not going to post the comments. Reason: We had a long discussion about that, and the decision is done.

          The policy: We all encourage the use of a real name, but it isn’t strictly required. We each moderate our own posts for civility, spam and relevance, and we each use our own standards for judging it.

          2) MY LAZY MODERATING CREATED CONFUSION. I shouldn’t have approved comments made here that were really about Brian’s post rather than mine. I was out-of-town paying attention to family stuff, and I just wasn’t reading what I was approving. My mistake. Sorry for the confusion it created. In the future, I’ll try not to approve comments that are relevant to a different authors’ post.

Comments are closed.