Editor’s Note: The Cantankerous Grammarian will be an ongoing feature, monthly-ish, on our blog. We are so pleased to welcome Mr. Berkson to our family.
The litter of “y’know” in speech is so annoying to me that I have to turn off my radio or change the station when I hear it. I am so distracted that I cannot focus on what the person is saying. Today on my local PBS station (WNYC fm) there was a man who mastered it so well that he even uttered double shots of the phrase. The first utterance was in a normal voice and it was followed by a second one in a softer, lower register (almost muttering). Frequently, he used it several times in a single sentence.
y’know, y’know Y’KNOW — ENOUGH ALREADY!
Try this: Turn on the radio or television set to a talk show and have a pencil and paper ready to keep a tally of how many times you hear the phrase and how many people use it.
This awful habit seriously detracts from the message they are trying to deliver. Why do they treat it as punctuation? Those who do this come from every group you can think of: rich, poor, educated or not, intelligent or not.
I do not get it! Why do professional speakers do it? Why don’t they know they are doing it? Why don’t they go for speech therapy? Why doesn’t anyone suggest they go for therapy?
Photo of Iron Eyes Cody: Lex Fridman