I WAS listening to an interview on radio the other morning, when the person being interviewed seemed to run out of words, and finished the sentence: “…so, yeah, no, it’s all good.”
I seem to be more alert to this changing bit of our Australian version of the English language, and – this will NOT surprise you - I have a theory.
My theory is that all too often we feel a need to pack the air around us with words, words, words and more words.
Look at the TV shows. They’re all rapid-fire chattiness and comments so sharp you could shave with them.
People who are a tad hard of hearing report increasing difficulty following the dialogue precisely on TV and in movies.
I recall John Cleese's comments from the film Fierce Creatures, when he’s looking longingly into the eyes of Jamie Lee Curtis and says: “You Americans have so many words.”
According to my theory, there is a new belief that we need to just keep words spewing forth if we are to be effective communicators, and when words do eventually fail, we realise that, having actually said nothing, we no longer know how to stop.
In this theory, I think people use talking as an activity rather than a method to communicate thoughts. We seldom think a sentence through to its end before we launch into this activity.
We invented fake sentence ends, such as “…so, yeah” , “like yeah” and “buttarm”. That last one fascinates me.
In a sentence, it goes like this: “…I really enjoyed dinner and, err, buttarm …” Maybe I’ve spelled it incorrectly. Perhaps it should be “ but …ahhhm”, but I have the sort of mind which prefers my version.
An increasing way of ending a sentence is the “hanging so”. “I drove to the park, so …” Curiously, a lot of folk also seem to begin sentences with a random “So.” In this case, not only does the sentence not have a clever escape route, it begins on a slippery slope.
Modern Australian speak also includes a curious rising inflection at the end of sentences, so they sound almost like questions. “I went to the shop? I bought some eggs? They were very good?”
Again, it sounds like people are unsure how to end a comment, or even if it has really ended, so feel the need to leave their options open.
This is formally called the High Rising Terminal, or a bit rudely, the Moronic Interrogative. HRT has been reported around the English speaking world, but some believe it is particularly common in Australia and New Zealand.
In short ….
So, like yeah. Yeah, no, okay? … so, buttarm, yeah. So … THE END.
I think people use talking as an activity rather than a method to communicate