17 July 2008

Is "Right?" the new "like"?

I don't know whether it's just a virus within our company, but in more and more meetings I attend (by phone), the speakers seem to have developed the habit of saying "Right?" at the end of almost every phrase, sometimes after a phrase that isn't even long enough to convey a complete thought: "What we need to do is...right?...spend more time in meetings...right?"I'm in the middle of listening to one of those speakers, right? I keep responding (with my phone on mute, of course), "I don't know; you're telling me"... "I don't know; you're telling me." Perhaps such speakers have found that "Right?" creates a pattern of almost automatic head-nodding, most people still having the idea that "Right?" is a question and that it's polite to indicate an answer at least by nodding. We're not used to it being punctuation. But they like seeing the sea of nodding heads, so they keep doing it.

1 comment:

BillyD said...

It strikes me as very Japanese. I understand that in conversation Japanese are careful to elicit responses using the particle "ne" at the end of phrases and sentences. It's overuse is apparently frowned upon by purists, but it serves a useful purpose. It's a reminder that you're engaged in a conversation, not a monologue, and lets the other person signify that they are indeed listening by nodding or responding, "ne." At least, that's what I was told when I was in Japan with the Navy.