"You know" ain't y'all !
“You know?” Ain’t Y’all
“YOU KNOW?” It is a phrase that you hear increasingly, from television announcers, after an expository statement. I don’t know if it is a subjunctive question, seeking reaffirmation of that which was uttered or simply a reflexive utterance that supplants a comma or a colon in speech. Sometimes, an educated, and seemingly sophisticated speaker, will employ the phrase twenty times in an interview. What’s up with that? It makes the speaker sound like a semi-literate babbler.
Anyone, versed in the art of public speaking, knows that there are a lot of nerves involved when facing a large audience, each straining to hear what you have to say. The momentary thought transition, of reflexive pauses, when shifting mental gears, often manifests itself in the phrase “You know?” All well- trained public speakers are trained to avoid the utterance. Like “Er” or “Um,’ they are a phonic irritant to the listener. Most speakers are trained to pause, often saying nothing for a few seconds, until the mental transition is completed and another verbal train of thought is entered into.
So, I appeal to all commentators and public speakers. Lose the phrase “you know” from your presentation. We in fact “don’t know” and are distracted from your message by this stylistic faux pas, you know?
Joseph Xavier Martin