In the last two months, have you noticed the enormous number of conversations, both personal and in the media that are punctuated by the one word question and commentary, “really?” The word, currently being used to express sarcastic disbelief – has completely outperformed last year’s commonly used sentence-ending phrase, “And, what-not.” The fact that “really” has replaced “what-not” became apparent to me last month when friends on both east and west coasts used “really?” more than six times in the course of a two-hour conversation.

It is truly a phenom. Perhaps John Stewart of The Daily Show pushed us over the tipping point. I’m not sure, how these things happen, but I find it fascinating that a word or a phrase can suddenly appear ubiquitous.

A great catch all; “really” expresses surprise, dismay, disbelief, and in general, questions the authenticity, and at times, the sanity of the speaker of the comment in question. Depending on where you put your emphasis, it can be a little mischievous, like when you drawl it out and use it as a question: “REAALLLY?” Or, coupled with an exclamation point, or even better, a loud staccato voice, it expresses a level of outrage. In fact, according to the dictionary, it’s an adverb that means “truly.”

It’s not that I’m against using the word “really”, but I prefer moderation. As a coach, I make a good deal of my living paying close attention to what people say. When “really” becomes almost as prevalent as a comma during conversation, it becomes a bit tiresome to the ear. I guess what I want to say is that sometimes we fall into unconscious patterns and it troubles me. I wonder, do unconscious speech patterns intimate unconscious living? I hope not. Do you think I’m off base bringing this up? Really?

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Date: Friday, 11. February 2011 20:46
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