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Know What I’m Sayin’?

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“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“Good things, when short, are twice as good.” – Gracián
“A short saying often contains much wisdom.” – Sophocles
“Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.” – Cicero
“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”
– Dorothy Parker

These quotes reflect on the writer’s mind-set.

What is it with some people and their speech? Know what I’m sayin’? As communicative beings, we grow and use communicative skills to convey our hunger, anger, and love. From the infant’s first lungful cry to the animal grunts in the bedroom, the distance is not all that arduous.

In a foreign land we can still communicate hunger even if we don’t know the language. In restaurants I have used primitive sign language to order food. In meetings, we use non-verbal language.

The majority of the time we use words to communicate our thoughts — structured or broken — depending on the company. Both are okay with me, but what irritates me at times is when certain words or phrases are abused. Know what I’m sayin’?

As readers we come across words that send us scurrying to the padded room. The pharmaceutical companies that make drugs for ulcers and blood pressure must have invested in programs that enhance abuse of the written language.

As if that is not enough, we increasingly hear these abuses in conversations and on radio and television. It is discomforting enough when teens tell their parents “You don’t know nothin’ dad,” but when a grown man interjects “Know what I’m sayin’?” after every second simple sentence, I feel like introducing the speaker to the greasy side of a wrought iron pan.

Everyday verbal communication includes colloquialisms, slang, jargon, and idiom. The time when hunter-gatherers made do with grins and grunts is past; though I wonder sometimes. The use of expletives in everyday usage alarms me, as I explained in Duck, Man Duck!

Would I prefer to be rained with ‘know what am sayin’” or with a plethora of expletives that tell me and others to go forth and make love? Neither. I’d rather be uncommunicative. Perhaps at some chance encounter, I may garner courage to tell someone who wants to know if I understand what he is saying with “I do, but do you?”

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  • Baronius

    Interesting. Do you think that cursing or “know what I’m sayin’?” really count as communication? If not, what are they? Do they fill the air between thoughts? Maybe they fulfill some kind of social obligation – there are certainly situations where G-rated language is frowned upon. They could be the mark of bad schooling or lack of education (very different things, by the way). Or just bad habits.