My English no good

It drives me nuts when my interviewees end each sentence with “you know,” and fill their sentences with millions of “like” or “like, you know.” Because, like, taking the numerous fillers out when editing an audio clip takes, like, twice as much time, you know.

I was frustratedly editing an audio clip full of those fillers the other day when my roommate got home. I complained to her, “How come people are so obsessed with ‘like’ and ‘you know’?” She said, “Every time I hear people say ‘you know,’ I’d think to myself, ‘I wouldn’t have asked if I knew that.'”

I couldn’t help but laugh — some of us Chinglish speakers don’t get the art of fillers.

American hospitality — like the filler “like” — took me a long time to get used to. I was an exchange student down in Arkansas for four months in 2011. Every time I went to the school cafeteria, I was greeted by the old cashier ladies (Whoops, was I just being politically incorrect calling them old ladies?) with “sweetie,” “honey,” “baby,”  “sweetheart,” or “dear.” When I first heard the terms of endearment, my reaction was, “I’m not your sweetie.” But here in Iowa, I sometimes do miss the southern hospitality.

My upbringing in the implicit Chinese culture gave me yet another hard time using superlatives. “Very good” and “great” used to be the best comments I could make on people and things. Not that I didn’t know “excellent,” “extraordinary,” “amazing,” “super,”  “wonderful,” “awesome,”and whatever I call “big words,” they just felt exaggerating to me, and I thought it was uncool to express strong feelings. And when I got comments with those “big words,” I’d suspect, “Really? I’m not that good.” (I know i was cranky) I have always been amazed by the ability of Americans to use a wide variety of superlatives in daily conversations and email exchanges — they are just truly good at making people feel good — how marvelous!

See, now I’ve even learned to use the exclamation mark without hesitance. When in Rome…

Related article and video:
Like, Uh, You Know: Why Do Americans Say ‘You Know’ And Use Other Verbal Fillers So Often?
View How to Stop Saying “Like,” “Um” & “You Know” on Howcast

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