You Know What I Mean

SpriteOkay, I’ve finally had it. I can’t take anymore. I want people to finish a thought. I want them to complete a sentence. To stop saying, “You know what I mean,” not as a question, but as the end of every sentence that has no object, no end, no clear thought. Please stop saying, “you know what I mean,” because, quite frankly, I don’t have any damn idea what you mean. You haven’t said anything.

Here’s a multitude of examples (in case you don’t know what I mean):

“Let’s go get something to, …you know what I mean.  Maybe a steak, or some, …you know what I mean.”

“We shouldn’t always be so, …you know what I mean.”

“Maybe we should try doing, …you know what I mean.”

“I think it would be more, …you know what I mean.”

You know what I mean, it’s driving me, well, …you know what I mean.  How about crazy.  There’s a word.

You’d think someone that was educated, as least beyond kindergarten, would be able to complete a thought. A simple sentence without having to ask me if I know what they mean. And they’re not really asking, like I said, they’re just using it as filler, something to get by with instead of actually thinking of what it is they actually mean.

Nouns are plentiful,
Adjectives too,
Verbs, and pronouns, to name just a few.
You can actually say what it is that you mean.
Try it, you’ll like it.
It’s easy, I swear.
You can come up with words right out of thin air.
Maybe it’s just not the right word, okay,
Maybe it makes the whole thought seem cliché.
But if you don’t put a word at the end of the thought,
You’re going to sound stupid, really, a lot.

So I thought it was just me. But I’m listening to someone that sits behind me at work, who uses the phrase incessantly, and I’m wondering if anyone really knows what she means, when I hear someone else doing the same thing. This person claims to have an MBA. Yet as he was attempting to answer someone’s work related question, he said the dreaded “you know what I mean,” several times without actually, in my estimation, answering the damn question.
I’m starting to think I may have stumbled on a real communication problem, a communication problem that has become almost epidemic. Just stop and listen to people conversing around you and tell me how many times you hear “you know what I mean.” Or even worse, “KnoWhutImean.”

Jim VarneyRemember “know what I mean, Verne?” Jim Varney, James Albert Varney Jr., the famous commercials where he is standing outside the kitchen window talking to Verne whom you never see. They were hilarious. “Verne… Verne..Verne…Verne…Verne.” Known as Ernest P. Worrell, those commercials spun off into a short-lived TV series and a few bad movies in the 80s and 90s. “Ernest Goes to Camp” earned him a nomination as the “Worst New Star,” but the movie made a fortune at the box office. I have to admit, I’ve never seen any of them. I’m thinking that’s probably a good thing.

Now, if you add “If you know what I mean,” to the end of any sentence, it tends to have a sexual connotation. For example you’re at a bakery and you say “I’d like to have some of those buns, if you know what I mean,” to the cute girl on the other side of the counter. Or, “Do you have hot cross buns, if you know what I mean.” At the sub shop, “I’d really like to have one of those foot longs, if you know what I mean.”

Another fun thing I discovered, during a credit conference dinner, is that by adding the simple phrase “He or she said passionately,” to the end of almost any sentence, you can get some interesting undertones. It works really well for just about any fortune from a fortune cookie too. “A friend is a present you give yourself, he said passionately.” “All your hard work will soon pay off, she said passionately.” “Do not let ambitions overshadow small success, she said passionately.” “Don’t just think, act, she said passionately.” “Now is the time to try something new, he said passionately.” Well, I’m sure you get the idea. Try it the next time you have the chance to crack open a fortune cookie. It makes the fortune that much more interesting.

We laughed for hours using the phrase at the end of every sentence. We were drinking at the time, and it obviously doesn’t take much to amuse me. However, in my defense, I was with a lot of other people who were also laughing. I don’t think we were loud enough to be asked to leave the very nice Italian restaurant we were in, but I’m not certain about that.

And yes, I’ve been thrown out of places before. Bars mostly. I can’t give you any details because I seem to have blocked those memories out for some reason. But, deep down, I think I’m proud.

Genya RavanThere are songs titled “You Know What I Mean.” Ralph Lalama has an album with that title. I don’t know who Ralph Lalama is, but he’s holding a saxophone on his album cover. It looks like a tenor sax, but I’m not positive, and he has a quartet. Neil Diamond wrote a much underplayed song titled “If You Know What I Mean.” It was purportedly one of his favorites. It’s a nice song, if you know what I mean. Genya Ravan has a single dubbed “Do You Know What I Mean.” She looks scary, and I’ve never heard of her, and I’ll probably never listen to that single. The “Cults” have a song “You Know What I Mean.” I don’t know who the Cults are either, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. Not that I’m not open to different types of music, but they look a little demonic. I mean, with a name like the Cults, if you know what I mean.

So I just wanted to make it crystal clear: If you don’t tell me what you mean, I don’t know what you mean. I’m not going to try to guess. I’m not filling in the blanks for you. So don’t say “…you know what I mean,” when you don’t even know what you mean, because you couldn’t think of anything to say except “… you know what I mean.” WTF. I feel better now.



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4 responses to “You Know What I Mean

  1. Just more lazy language, O. It’s become an epidemic. There are several people in my family who begin telling me stories about some mysterious person, usually called What’s Her Name. Often, this unidentified subject has one of those whaddyacallits. I attempt to continue listening, but I’m stuck trying to figure out who and what they’re talking about. It’s exasperating. And I know you know what I mean.

    • I’m familiar with what’s her name. She’s in a lot of stories I’m told every day.
      Thanks for stopping by. I agree that this lazy language is reaching epidemic proportions. You can follow a group of kids in a mall (hopefully you won’t be misinterpreted in your intent) and listen to them. They can hold a complete conversation without ever completing a sentence. “And he’s like, and you know, I said, like, wow.” And the other people…..they get it. Or it seems like they do.

  2. Like, I totally know what you mean. Great post; I feel similar annoyances with the psuedo-English spoken today, she said passionately.

    • Thanks for stopping by, if you know what I mean. Psuedo-English. That’s a good way to put it. I was taught to write like I talk. It would be difficult to write anything worth much if I talked like most of them people I’m around today.

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