My salty pastor pal Suzanne Ecklund shares my sensitive ear. She suffers with me when people use language to make themselves bigger, to make you smaller or to undeservingly ingratiate themselves. She shares my conviction that verbal tics that become trendy have meaning, and consequences. For one of many instances, Suzanne and I believe that people are getting at something when they begin an answer to an honest question with the entirely unnecessary word, "so." If anything, Suzanne thinks that I didn't react strongly enough in this video rant.
Well, Suzanne emailed me over the weekend with another problem: "People now, when you ask them a question, will nod very earnestly and say, 'Sure' before they answer the question. You will despise it. 100% satisfaction guarantee."
Of course I've heard it and I already despise it. But Suzanne helped me lay tongue to it.
She and I have slightly different interpretations of its signaled meaning.
Here's what I think this use of "sure" signals:
"Sure, I'm happy to answer that question. It's understandable that you would ask it, you not knowing much. But I'm going to start by saying 'sure,' and then I'm probably going to throw in a 'so'—just so you know it's a patient expert Einstein that you have the good fortune to deal with here."
Q. Why do you have to seal the reckonambulator before you flush it?
A. Sure. So, the pipes in the reckonambulator are made of copper …
Suzanne, meanwhile, thinks "sure" is used for another purpose:
My experience of it is that it is much more about demonstrating sincerity, earnestness, warmth, and connection. (barf)
Q: Given your own history, was your experience of reading the book a challenging one?
A: (nodding warmly) Sure. (deliberate pause) Answer, answer, answer, answer, answer.
It's so gross.
Writing Booterrorists, have you detected this new American habit of speech? Is it a leading sign of the decline of Western Civilization, or is it something more benign?