The interesting thing is...

Society has phrases that invade everyone's speech patterns.

Some are obvious and gratuitous, mostly because they are so out of place in everyday conversations that they stand out. "Simmer Down!" and "That's what she said!" and "Who dat?" are a few of these obvious ones.

Others are obvious when they start and just fade into common speech patterns so that they become unnoticeable. "Like" is one of these, as in, 'And she was, like, "No, I'm not going to do that."' If you don't emphasize the "like," you likely won't notice it, especially if you aren't listening for it.

The most insidious of these speech patterns, however, are the ones that never obvious: they invade everyone's speech with very few people noticing it. Two years ago, the pattern "what it is is" was one of these. You could listen to someone switch from saying "It is this" to "What it is is this." This pattern invaded the entire cultural spectrum in the United States. I heard it from educated elderly woman and punk-ass kids, from well off to not so well off, and all sorts of ethnic groups (trains and airports and buses are great places to cross socio-economic barriers), and I heard "what it is is" in all of them.

I used "what it is is" until Kris pointed out I was saying it, and then we both pointed the pattern out to other people, usually causing it to stop in the people we informed. The pattern, like most patterns started to fade. I don't hear it very much these days.

What I hear, instead, is "The interesting thing is..." as a lead-in or transition phrase. I can't go one conversation these days without hearing "The interesting thing is..." When you first started noticing it, the interesting thing is that you can find it EVERYWHERE. While I'm sure that there are a lot of interesting things, "the interesting thing" is not one of them. It's just annoying.

And now, I'm just waiting for the phrase "What the interesting thing is is" to start up.

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