Annoying vocal mannerisms: "right?" is the new "like"

Many of the students I hear giving oral presentations begin with “On the other hand”.

Hehe. Very appropriate. Thanks.

One of the things I appreciate about the SDMB is that people here are aware of this kind of crap and also bothered by it.

I posted some observations like the ones in this thread elsewhere, and someone replied, “No one cares.”

I think people need to understand, before they go getting all judgey, people need filler words so they can hash out their thoughts before they speak off the cuff.

People also use “filler” words to help alleviate social anxiety.

So maybe try to be a little more understanding.

Obama truly was the “Wizard of Ahs,” but that’s why Trump affected profundity with palilalia (self- echolalia) word repetition, and pauses. He wanted to avoid “uh” at all costs.

One of our greatest orators, MLK Jr., was such a practiced spielmeister that he always had an alternate phrasing of the same statement on hand if his brain needed to quickly reboot. My favorite of the old-timers was Everett Dirksen, who simply talked so slowly that his words never got ahead of his brain.

Do not. Some of the people I record lectures with don’t use any at all, and I rarely have to slice any out of my own technical how-to videos either. Using filler words is a bad habit a lot of people have.

To be clear, all of the mentioned quirky mannerisms are annoying when used excessively, and they very often are used excessively. My only nitpick is that “right?” is not the “new” anything; it’s as old as dirt, and isn’t comparable to “like” (except in level of annoyance) because it’s an entirely different ersatz part of speech. “Like” can function as a modifier/adjective, or as a meaningless preamble, filler, or conjunction. Whereas the interrogative “right?” is always used at the end of some declaration, as if seeking affirmation – except it never really is, and so it’s just noise that has no conceivable useful communicative function.

I suspect that unconsciously the speaker is just using it as a pause for emphasis, as if to say “just let that sink in for a moment, before I go on to the next point in my rant”. Thus speech that is peppered with “right?” is somewhat like being hit over the head as each point is made, to make sure you’ve got it.

So, like, I had this theory of computation course once, like back in college, right? And we, like, talked about the various things in English that you could replace “like” with depending on context as a way of introducing the concept of context-free grammars, right? And so like at the end of the discussion, which include a lovely number of ways to analyze the movie title “Spies Like Us”, we determined that “like” could also be replaced with, like, nothing in many contexts.

I’ve been hearing “I know, right?” since 1980ish, anyway.

“…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against
us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

I know, right?

Just a flimsy excuse to link to the underrated Gary the Rat.

Yes, allow me to amend my previous post:

SOME people need to use filler words…

Of course people are going to have varying levels of skill when it comes to public or social speaking.

If they have social anxiety about talking, they should have chosen a job other than radio reporter.

I don’t object to people using ‘now’ as a filler word: people I know don’t do that. Around here It’s a common way for radio reporters to start paragraphs, leading to my suspicion that they aren’t actually people.

What’s burning my toast is the proliferation of “Just so you know. . . [insert sentence here].”

The whole preface is wasted, vapid, pretentious filler, and I will know whatever “it” is, when you simply tell me: [insert sentence here]. The proliferation of the filler phrase seems to be expanding, and it’s annoying as all git-out.

Seriously, just don’t say the filler, open your mouth, and let facts fly.

Because knowing is half the battle.

A program manager at our workplace does this. She says, “Right? Right?” after each sentence. We make fun of her. :blush:


One that really chaps me is “actually”. I know a guy who started about ⅓ of all sentences with “Actually…”; it drove me nuts. Everything you’d say to this guy, he’d reply with “you’re wrong; here’s the facts”.

I agree. I think everyone should have to do Toastmasters; that friggin’ bell taught me really quickly to find ways to avoid filler words and pauses.

Yes, and of late it has been abbreviated to just “right?”

A co-worker of mine does this. If I make a statement, the odds are high that her response will be “right?”.


ETA: I, of course, do nothing to annoy anyone. :slight_smile:

This isn’t strictly a vocal mannerism, but hey, it’s like my thread, right? Hehe.

I’ve had it up to HERE <hand to eyebrow> with guys. :angry: Especially when used several times in the same sentence/paragraph (I’m thinking of podcasts and YouTube videos).

Hey, guys! I’m so glad you guys decided to join me today for a discussion of how to build and arm a nuclear (pronounced “nu-cue-lur”) weapon in you guys’ own basement! How cool is that, guys? Now you guys don’t have to put up with crap from anyone because you guys now have the ultimate conversation-stopper, amirite?

I know guys is not going away, but I really hate it. I hated it when a waiter would walk up to a table occupied by me and my old lady friends and ask, “What can I get you guys today?”

Well, I sort of agree with you up to a point – I can particularly empathize with the overuse of “guys” in podcasts and videos as you mention. But the intent is rarely, if ever, malicious, and just reflects the widespread modern sense of “guys” as gender-neutral.

In the case of the waiter you mention, I’d cut them some slack because they’re in a bit of a quandary. What should they call you (or more accurately, youse)? The most obvious and respectful form of address would be “ladies”, but for just that reason, it may come across as formal and stuffy in a place trying to create an atmosphere of relaxed casualness, kind of like a bunch of guys walking into a casual bar and being addressed as “gentlemen”. “Girls” sounds like a ridiculous affectation. “Folks” would sound to many as, well, a bit too folksy. “Gals” is right out of the early part of the last century. There’s not a lot left. Whereas “guys” seems to me to have this wonderful sense of casual non-gendered neutrality.

But then, I’m seeing all this from the perspective of a guy. :slight_smile:

As did Harlow P. Whitcomb:

Good grief. I didn’t say it was malicious. Just stupid, careless, lazy, juvenile, disrespectful, and uneducated. But hardly malicious. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

The pronoun “you” is also gender-neutral.

As for the waiter, an alternative to guys would be nothing.

  • “May I take your order?”
  • “What can I bring you today?”
  • “Are you ready to order?”

What a load of crap. And I mean that in the nicest, kindest, most non-malicious way you can possibly imagine.