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Verbal Crutches, Umm...Like....Y'know What I'm Sayin'

Updated on April 12, 2012

My senior year of high school, I remember hearing an idea from my English teacher. Carry around a tape recorder for an entire day, or even a week, and at the end of that time, count all the different words you said. He claimed it would be a real measure of your vocabulary, if you can fight the urge to carry around a thesaurus and spout out SAT words like "grandiloquence." Look it up and you might find some irony.

I'd be terrified of that experiment. After 7 days, 168 hours, my grand total might end up being in the few dozen range. I say things like "dude" and "man" way too much. Along with what this piece is really about, verbal crutches. I'm a 27 year-old man and don't really say anything that I didn't when I was 20. Well....other than "app."

I'll share with you a few of the words or phrases that I hold dear when I'm not eloquent enough to come up with something better to say, trying to buy myself some time, or just force of habit.

You Know What I'm Sayin'

I'm the most white bread guy you might ever meet. I mean, I like the taste of Starbucks and enjoy The Gap and everything. For some reason I end 50% of my sentences with "y'know what I'm sayin'." It's actually nothing about race, but you DO hear that end phrase a lot more from someone that might be a Jay-Z or 50 cent listener, any race. Or maybe my perception is warped by the inner sanctum of my suburban upbringing.

I think it comes from wanting to be heard, at least for me...and feeling that you're not being heard. Read into it what you like, but it's probably because I talk too much and get tuned out from time to time. I sense this and feel the need to clarify that whomever I'm talking to is actually listening. I do not think what I'm saying is so complex that I need to ask if you can fathom my statement.

Okay, I don't think you understood me.  If your computer freezes, you need to press cntrl+alt+delete.  All together, y'know what I'm sayin'?
Okay, I don't think you understood me. If your computer freezes, you need to press cntrl+alt+delete. All together, y'know what I'm sayin'?

The Dreaded Like

Like is a very talented word. It can be verb, a modifier, a placeholder, or anything else you want to fall out of your dumb head. No offense. I'm just going to ignore the proper way to say this. "I like the way this painting uses impressionist styles" will not be tolerated here. I probably heard it used like this for the first time on Saturday morning watching Saved By the Bell as a little kid. Like was usually coupled with oh my god by a teenage girl with teased-up, bleach blonde hair from "the valley" of Southern California. I only hope you read that in the valley girl accent, bobbing your head back and forth knocking each shoulder. Where's my Aquanet?

I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime in the mid-90's, it became essentially common speak for every person under the age of 30. If something isn't quite the color brown, instead of figuring out the actual color name of that shade, it's like brown. Don't want to have to ask someone's height? No problem. He's like really tall or really short.

It's almost like your brain is ready to say something profound, but the laziest part decides to take over. The part that makes The Jersey Shore cast multimillionaires and Avatar the highest grossing movie of all time. That little piece of grey matter that decides it's a good idea to eat a fried Snickers bar jumps in and brags about his intellectual superiority, "Don't worry brah, I got this." It's frightening to see how often we let this part of us man/woman the wheel.

I really do believe this was popularized because of laziness. Why go find a book in the library or a freakin' color wheel when you can just fill that space with mindlessness. But today we have this thing called the internet. Man, it sure was tough sometimes to find out about something in the pre-information age. Now we have no excuses.

Apparently, this is what the internet looks like.  Making likes 30% less prevalent in this article......crap.....20%.
Apparently, this is what the internet looks like. Making likes 30% less prevalent in this article......crap.....20%.

In reality, I would love to say the internet has helped the collective vocabulary of the world, but I'm not buying it. With instant messaging, phone texting and it's text-language, and commenting on articles online, you see the same things over and over again. Have you ever read the comments on any internet article or video? (umm ha, not hubpages, we love you hubpages!) Your faith in humanity will slowly erode over time. Or quickly.

Umm...Uh...Or Any Other Mindless Placeholder

You can point out and make fun of a lot of things we say, but this is more of an involuntary reaction, at least I think. A placeholder is exactly what I believe these type of words are. If you get asked a question, you've got two choices: answer, saying something right away OR you stare back, possibly drooling. Which one would you pick? Pure silence seems to last forever and can be deafening. In a society where a few seconds can mean everything, there is no room to look like you're not sure about something. Even if you're wrong, which is a shame.

The 2012 presidential race is coming up. See which one is talked about more. Most, if not all, of the candidates will spout pure B.S. to the public just for the sake of getting elected. Okay, all of them. But if a candidate admits to not knowing something, which instance do you think the press and general public will be grabbing onto and talking about?

Early in the GOP/Republican party nominee race, hopeful Rick Perry admitted to not knowing what parts of the government he'd like to cut. This is a lot more than an a simple uh ....but at least he didn't lie about that (I'm not saying he didn't lie about everything else). Saying "I don't know right now" isn't the worst thing in the world. I do think it proves that ego gets in the way so no one can seem to show weakness in anything. Within a couple weeks, Perry dropped out of the race. I sense myself starting to go off on an only slightly-related tangent. Back on course.

Anyway, going umm... has to do with your brain not running at 100% efficiency, which shouldn't have to be constantly apologized for or feared. We eat, drink, and breathe poison on a daily basis. We live in a far from perfect world on top of that, so it really isn't that surprising. In fact, this kind of behavior should be expected. It's just a minor synapse misfire.

I thought I said minor?
I thought I said minor?

If you have any verbal crutches you'd like to share, or if you have strong feelings one way or another on this, don't hesitate to push your fingers against those letter keys and leave a comment below.

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    • ShyeAnne profile image

      ShyeAnne 

      4 years ago from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada

      Verbal crutches, I like that, catchy title. And we all have our 'go to' lazy words , eh? lol (I am Canadian!)

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      5 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @skinsman8200...Brilliantly done, ya know what I'm sayin, like, cool, man!

      Today's social networks are made of verbal crutches, but I'm too straight English to join in; however, your humor here is unstoppable!

    • profile image

      michaelnaeesom 

      6 years ago

      hi there tom it took me ages to find it i think this is the link

      and details, they have a wealth of knowledge ,say mick recommened you

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 

      6 years ago from home

      TL S82K,

      My mind is full of things like this... so its hard to be me as I am rather verbose but I try

      TH

    • skinsman82000 profile imageAUTHOR

      skinsman82000 

      6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I thought that was pretty great too Twilight.

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Tom, I have seldom heard anyone put a case so succinctly.

      What was confusion, now is relevance, what was obscure is now crystal clear.

      Thank you.

      You are my guru.

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 

      6 years ago from home

      S82k,

      well, ya know , Im figuring that y-know it seems-that well, Its like , its gotta be, one of those things that we 'yall know that its like a ya-know, its gotta be, a like, ya know a cool thing that's gotta happenso sometimes ya gotta realize things jut kinsa happen and stuff happens. i figure that aaahhhh Ummmm ya'know. i'm just sayin ya gotta understand that's just it fo-shizzle my skin bizzle 82k bizzle...

      TH

    • Susie Writes profile image

      Susan 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      Entertaining hub, skinsman. After years of listening to my husband's business telephone conversations in which he said "y'know" far too many times, I decided to start counting. OMG, it was like, a real eye opener. I told him he said it at least a dozen times in every conversation - often many more. He started watching himself more closely and once becoming aware of it, he almost totally never says it now.

      I, on the other hand, would never utter such nonsense. You know? Dude, I mean, really. ;-)

    • brianlokker profile image

      Brian Lokker 

      6 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      Excellent, very well written hub on one of my pet peeves (even when I'm the guilty one). It's not a new phenomenon: one of my great-uncles, who was born around 1890, threw in a "y'know?" at the end of virtually every sentence. Your description of the lazy "like" hits the nail on the head. It's especially articulate when combined with "go" used as a stand-in for "say," as in "So then she goes, like, OMG!"

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 

      6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Very funny reminder of why we should all avoid using verbal crutches. Like, you know what I mean. Ummm, thanks!

    • skinsman82000 profile imageAUTHOR

      skinsman82000 

      6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      Tamarajo, Adrian, always, Anne...thanks for the interest and kind words.

    • Anne Pettit profile image

      Anne Pettit 

      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Very funny and appropriate. Just sayin.........

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Quite interesting..I am guilty of over using favorite phrases. Thank you..Fun hub...

    • Adrian Lavelle profile image

      Adrian Lavelle 

      6 years ago from Galway, Ireland

      Hey man, cool hub, I'm guilty myself of over used phrases, the most repetetive one is saying 'D'you know that way?' at the end of every sentence. Cheers for the follow too and the fan mail by the way, very much humbled and appreciated

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 

      6 years ago

      This was quite entertaining as I could identify with all of the above mentioned verbal crutches.

      The suggestion to carry around the tape recorder is tempting and at the same time, like you, I think I might be horrified. The Minnesota accent wouldn't help anything either.

      Enjoyed the humorous presentation.

    • skinsman82000 profile imageAUTHOR

      skinsman82000 

      6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I say all 3 way too much, it's why I wrote the hub. Thanks for the read, and the vote.

    • skinsman82000 profile imageAUTHOR

      skinsman82000 

      6 years ago from Frederick Maryland

      I would never do that! haha. Thanks. I'd be the pot calling the kettle black anyway.

    • georgiecarlos profile image

      georgiecarlos 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      What a fun read! And sadly, I' sure I say like way too much. I don't mean it but I suppose it's just ingrained in me as of the moment haha

      Love this hub! Voted up!

    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      6 years ago

      Skinsman82000, What a belly-laughing, funny, hilarious look at the place-holders in people's speech! It's interesting how trends come and go, but that "like" and other verbal clutter managed to survive with the "good" fads of frisbees and skateboards.

      Thank you for sharing,

      Derdriu

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Enjoyed!

      I hope you don't trawl through my scribblings and find a plethora of overused and irrelevant words... If you do, please go gently with me, and I will try to do better in future.

    • alezafree profile image

      Aleza Freeman 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I'm very guilty of saying like, (like waaaaaaaaaaay too much). But, I also have to admit, a fried Snickers sounds fabulous. Fun hub. I, like, really enjoyed it ...

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