The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Always Asking Questions

I have a problem with Question Intonation. It bugs me. It’s nothing to do with class or accent; it’s just that it gives me confused signals, because I still associate it with someone vocalising uncertainty. Or speaking ironically, or parenthetically. To my ears, it makes the speaker sound insecure, hesitant and stupid. It’s as if they’re constantly asking for reassurance that they’re saying the right thing, for positive feedback. Rather like saying ‘You know?’ all the time, or ‘D’you know what I mean?’ or ‘D’you hear what I’m saying?’

If I may indulge the old fart in me for a paragraph, maybe it has something to do with premature deafness. Maybe we are seeing the first casualties of the Loudness War, of mp3 players which go up so loud you could still hear the hi-hat if your head was stuck up the exhaust pipe of a harrier jump jet. Maybe that’s why people sound like they are soliciting nods of comprehension - because they can’t hear their own voices. They’re checking whether ‘d’you hear what I’m saying’ because they can’t.

Even more annoying, though, is the word of the decade. ‘Meh’. Oh, it drives me nuts. It’s supposed to indicate a sort-of non-commital indifference, a lack of reaction, somewhere between ‘blah’ and ‘whatever’. Maybe the idea that something is so run-of-the-mill, so focus-grouped, so corners-smoothed-off that it didn’t intellectually touch the sides on the way down. But what it actually indicates is a lack of critical process, a smug supercilious unwillingness to engage critical faculties. It tells you more about the person than the thing they’re talking about.

That’s the world we live in. Global warming? Meh. The collapse of capitalism? Meh. The lack of funding for children’s television? Meh.

Oh, be negative, be positive, but have a bloody opinion.

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