So in spoken language, there are these things that just show up over time, and then it seems like they’re everywhere, and so we call them trends, right? So in a world with more recorded speech than ever before and, um, more access to all of this speech, these changes can happen very quickly, but they are also can be harder to isolate, right? So there’s actually a whole field of this, and it’s actually called linguistics, and it’s a really good tool for understanding the world around us.
Maybe you know someone who says this. It’s a disorienting style of speaking, one that combines supreme confidence with words that fill with anxiety and fear of pause. Maybe you overheard this voice talking to a date about meme stocks.
You’ve probably heard it make a counter-intuitive regulatory proposal on TV or on a podcast, explaining which complex things are really simple and which simple things are really complicated. Maybe it’s an executive on an earnings call, in an interview, or walking around a stage, delivering Jobs’ message in Gates’ voice.
Maybe you hear Mark Zuckerberg, the head of Facebook. The style does not originate with him, nor is he responsible for its spread. However, he may be the most successful and visible practitioner.
In his regular public appearances, Zuckerberg can be lectured on all sorts of topics this way: the future of technology (“in terms of augmented reality, yes, there is virtual reality.… ”); the early days of his social network (“no feed, right?”); human progress (“yes, I mean life expectancy has increased from about 50 to about 75”); Facebook’s mission (“you know, what I care about is giving people the power to share, giving each person a voice so we can make the world more open and connected. Right. ?”); “History of science” (“most of the great scientific breakthroughs were driven by new tools, yes, new ways of seeing things, right?”).
This is the voice of someone – in this case, and often a man – who is comfortable talking about almost any topic and not comfortable talking at all. (This is not Sheryl Sandberg’s measured, careful voice, but Elon Musk’s cheerful blushing shyness.) By default, it was one of the defining communication styles of the time. The right?
ZuckTalk is a type of unpolished speech expressed in contexts where polish is customary. It’s a hooded sweatshirt about language in a metaphorical boardroom. It is not just a collection of tics, but its tics are very important to understand it.
One: Therefore. Again: The right? In the final Zuckerbergian form, incorporated as a programmatic if-then binding move: The right? Therefore.
For many years, linguists have noted a clear increase in the word “such” in relation to the dissemination of certain topics and modes of speech. In 2010, in The New York Times, Anand Giridharadas announced the emergence of a new species of the word humble.
“” So “could be ‘good’ new,” um, “” oh “and” like. ‘ he wrote, noting journalist Michael Lewis about its use among programmers at Microsoft more than a decade ago.
In 2015, in a story for “Fresh Air” on NPR, Geoff Nunberg, the show’s longtime linguist, explained this use of “so” as a cue used by “people It’s impossible to answer a question without getting you up to speed on the story behind,” he said. Hence his name for it: the story goes back to “so.”
Syelle Graves, a linguist and assistant director of the Institute for Language Education in Transcultural Contexts at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, wrote her thesis on the development of languages. develop and use this special word “so. ” Analyzing a sample of spontaneous, unspoken American speech between 1990 and 2011, she concluded that usage of the word “so” has indeed increased dramatically, often as a substitute for “well.” “.
By checking online posts, she also found that people not only notice its spread – they are frequently irritated by it. “One of the most surprising results was that some of the publicity posters involved the back story “should” be with women, but many of the posters involved men,” Dr. Graves wrote in an email.
Dr. Graves then conducted a survey in which subjects responded to audio recordings of men and women providing identical answers to questions, with the words “so” and “good” at the beginning. In short, the woman who responded with the back story “so” was judged to be less authoritative, more trendy, and more like a “valley girl” than the woman who answered the question herself, she said. good question.
She said: “The man who answered the questions with a back story ‘should’ be less likable, more condescending and more like a ‘tech brother’ than the exact same recording of the person. men responded with ‘good’.
Speakers who have a loose connection to one of California’s two linguistically verdant valleys – Silicon to the north, San Fernando to the south – are often “regarded as less intelligent, less professional, and less mature.” more, among other things”.
Also in the era of “so, ” Another linguistic trend is getting more attention: fried vocals.
The term describes a way of speaking – also known as a “curt voice” – that carries some gender connotation. Studies have shown that women with a voice are often judged as less competent, less intelligent, and less qualified than those without.
In popular culture, vocals have become a joke, then its justification is a minor cause; in countless YouTube comments, it’s a way for sexists to briefly masquerade as relevant regulatory linguists to once again complain about the way women talk.
Male-coded conversational styles are often less subject to scrutiny. That’s not to say they go completely unnoticed. Users on Quora, a kind of Yahoo! professional grade. The responses were common to employees in the adjoining tech and tech industries, and men, returned over and over again to the same question: “When and why do people start ending sentences with ‘ correct?'”
This is called the “correct” question tag, similar to the British “innit”, the Canadian “eh” or the French “n’est-ce pas”. (See also: “Is that right?” “No?” “No?” “OK?”)
To hear Quora users say, “yes” are endemic to their world. “I suspect this speaking technique may have evolved due to the proliferation of podcasts, TED Talks and NPR-style radio shows,” wrote one user. “Because they don’t care what you say, they just want you to affirm/confirm what they’re saying.”
“It could be related to narcissism or borderline personality disorder,” another user wrote. “It seems very popular among Silicon Valley intellectuals,” said a third.
Micah Siegel, a venture capitalist and former Stanford professor, joined a Quora thread with an unusually specific theory. “My opinion is this is a classic talking virus,” he wrote. “I believe it started in the particle physics community in the early 1980s, spread to the solid state physics community in the mid-1980s, and then to the neuroscience community in the late 1980s. It seems to have become mainstream in just the past few years. I’m not sure what caused this latest jump.”
Mr. Siegel is not alone in observing the prevalence of “right?” among scholars in the sciences; A 2004 paper by linguist Erik Schleef found that the use of the related forms of “OK” and “correct” is much higher in natural science lectures than in humanities lectures. guess that they need to “test understanding more often than humanities instructors.”
A reasonable answer to Mr. Siegel’s question about what makes “right” speech “mainstream” is people from his academic background – familiar with the culture of speaking and giving presentations. , most comfortable in an environment with shared expertise – now public. data. They work on companies and products that, instead, quickly become extremely powerful outside of the world in which they are built.
However, one trusted person found that the language lab leak theory, “true” and its many variations, has gained wide spread in the community. In 2018, while writing for The Cut, Katy Schneider diagnosed Mark Cuban with severe true schizophrenia.
“He disguises ‘right’ as a question, but it’s really the opposite: a blunt, unaffected assertion of whatever he’s just said, a brief affirmative pause in the middle of a statement. confident dad and next,” she wrote, soon she was hearing it everywhere, “used frequently by experts, podcast hosts, TED Talk speakers.”
Mignon Fogarty, host of the “Grammar Girl” podcast and author of seven books on language, warns that when it comes to changes in language, discomfort and recognition often go hand in hand. “When you don’t like someone, it’s easy to criticize their speech as a way to show it,” she says. As someone who records weekly audio shows on languages, she knows it firsthand.
In 2014, after receiving complaints about how often she started sentences with “so,” Ms. Fogarty suggested a story idea to one of her contributors: This habit can reproachable? The writer is Dr. Graves, and the answer, it turns out, is complicated.
For a young, rising Facebook founder, chit-chatting through establishments on the way to pitch is, among other things, part of the job. Kate Losse, Zuckerberg’s former screenwriter, described his way of speaking in her memoir, “Boy Kings,” as “a combination of efficient shorthand and imperial confidence.” .” Also: “flat” but with a “masculine rhythm.”
However, the work has changed. Could that be why, as a way of talking, ZuckTalk is starting to seem… a bit old? Or maybe just popular.
Even Mr. Zuckerberg seems to notice. According to transcripts from Marquette University’s Zuckerberg Profile project, “right? so” built, after its peak in 2016 – much more to say! So much to explain! – deprecated in Facebook creator’s dictionary.
However, in the world he helped create, the “right” and the “should” are right at home. They are tools for the explainers among us and have been as popular as: in media interviews, seminars, talks, and speeches. Now, thanks to the social network – the machine that always reminds – everyone has the opportunity or need to explain themselves to an audience.
“So” is being comfortable watching YouTube videos; “Must” highlight Instagram Live with ease; a “right? so” dead air removal on podcast. These phrases aren’t going away anytime soon, so we might as well get used to them. The right?
For Context is a column that explores aspects of digital culture.