Thursday, January 8, 2009

Caroline Kennedy's 'You Know'

M. Dowd wrote a positive piece on Caroline Kennedy this week. She opened her piece with:

"Ask not, you know, what your country can, like, do for you. Ask what you, um, can, you know, do for your country."

Kennedy has received much criticism over the ubiquity of 'you know-s' in her speech.
I find 'crutch' words and phrases like: 'like', 'you know' 'you know what I mean', 'and um,' very difficult to tolerate some of the time. However, I also see why they are necessary, as well. But like salt, a pinch of it can help the dish. Too much makes it tough to swallow.
We all need time to think when constructing our verbal answers, after all. The many roles of language allow for covering and support of all sorts, after all.
So, while the excessive 'you know's' are vexing, a more careful focus on content could perhaps be more helpful. Granted it's tough to focus on content when faced with a deluge of 'you know-s', but, you know, we can try.







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11 comments:

Tina said...

You know, she's just shy perhaps.
I used to keep saying 'actually' even when not referring to 'actuality.'
I suppose she knows a thing or two if she's a Columbia Law graduate. Did you see Jon Stewart pardoy of her 'you know's?'
Oh, and Rachel Maddow was on the Daily Show last night, btw....

jj said...

Wow!
I saw the Jon Stewart parody. Funny/difficult to watch.
It is tough to reign 'you know' in. Maybe it's a good thing that not all public speakers sound the same, though. She needs to drop a few you know's, though.

liam said...

i agree that excessive contemplation fillers have the power to distract the listener from the intended content, but as you also mentioned, they are a commonly used tool in verbal language and should be acceptable in appropriate dosages.

Anonymous said...

They're a distraction, no doubt. But we all use them so tolerance is needed.
If a person becomes a public figure, they have to remove all layers of linguistic support all of a sudden? Language aids us all.

Dana said...

This is really hard to watch. It does keep one distracted from the content.

aflo said...

yes, we all have this problem. but this is excessive!

josh said...

Well, she's after all, you know, a Columbia grad. Did, you, hear about Palin's comments today about Kennedy?
They're, like, you know, interesting/odd and stuff. :)

Anonymous said...

We do expect public figures to be more eloquent, than, well, the rest of us. Not too much to ask.

Sra said...

Oh my god, there's terriers and bariffs everywhere! Call in homeland security!

That is some serious you know usage. And I thought I had a problem with you knows!

I think you knows and other verbal tics belie a lack of confidence in either what you're saying, or in how well you expect your words to be received. I think they can be worked out by focusing on your thoughts before speaking and replacing the tics with silence when you aren't sure how to continue, but this involves a lot of cognizance about your speech, and is easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

It does not represent her well. Granted, she might just be shy but a huge part of public success relies on external presentation, speech being one.

Nicki said...

And, wow, so many people are aware of her you knows, now. It's odd how we remember others' weaknesses so readily....