I know, right?

Why I can’t stand people saying ‘I know, right?’

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It’s the verbal equivalent of The Teenage Eyeroll, a nasty little phrase which makes me grit my teeth every time I hear it: ‘I know, right?’ There’s a vast difference between ‘I know’, and ‘I know, right?’. ‘I know’ tells me that the person I’m chatting to understands what I’m saying or agrees with me. That ‘right?’ tagged on the end instead conveys this to me: I’m superior to you, I know more about the subject we’re talking about than you do, and I’m not interested in your point of view, so you can shut up right now. It’s rude. It’s condescending. Earlier this week I was watching Anh Do’s Brush With Fame on the ABC, and Anh’s guest was Kate Ceberano. I’ve always admired Kate; she’s talented, funny and gorgeous. However, I was shocked to hear her say, “I know, right?” when she and Anh were discussing their respective appearances on Dancing With The Stars and the hectic and arduous rehearsals they both undertook. Anh didn’t even blink. I would have been putting my palette knife down and ending the conversation right there. Sorry, Kate, I’ve lost a wee bit of respect for you. That ‘I know, right?’ made you sound like you didn’t want to hear Anh’s anecdote, that you weren’t interested in it. Rude? You betcha. Should we ever meet, dear reader, and in the course of our conversation you say, ‘I know, right?’ to me, please don’t be offended if I slap you. I just may not be able to resist it.

I’m just not a txt-speak person

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old phonesRemember the days before smartphones? When normal mobile phones could only send short text messages? Was it the short messages or the sheer frustration of having to tap a key several times to use the letter you wanted which led to the abbreviation abomination known as txt-speak?  I suspect it was a bit of both. Even in those early days, I resisted using abbreviations such as 'u' for 'you'. Whenever possible, I spell words out. I may, on occasions where I'm in a tearing hurry, send a text along the lines of  "Ok, c u!" but oh dear, it's just not me. My pet hate in txt-speak is using 'ur' for 'your'. Ur was a city in ancient Mesopotamia. That's the first thing I think of when I see 'ur' in a text message or email. In high school we had a passionate Ancient History teacher whose name escapes me, but I can see her now, small and dark, vigorously gesturing as she spoke about Ur and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. She could see them in front of her, smell the smells, feel the desert heat, and she tried her best to bring it all to life for a classroom full of vaguely disinterested fourteen year old girls. So. I was fourteen and ur was Ur. Pronounced Err. If I wanted to abbreviate the word 'your', I used 'yr'. 'Yr' was used extensively by Jack Kerouac and the beat generation in the late 50s, and the use of 'yr' for 'your' goes back to the late 1700s. Confusingly, 'yr' is also a modern abbreviation for 'year', but unless you are extremely thick, you'll realise which context of 'yr' people are using when they write to you. I confess to using abbreviations such as LOL, BRB etc on Facebook and social media. Heck, I even speak LOLspeak, that feline language created by the Cheezeburger people. The English language is forever changing (unlike French, which is strictly controlled by l'Academie Francaise), and the way we speak and write reflects that. I'm happy to embrace change, but to a point: I have never used 'ur' for 'your', and I never will. I just find it offensive to my psyche. I'm a dinosaur. I suspect in fifty years time spelling and even grammar won't matter for the majority of people; we will be a society dependent on computers who will happily spell and correct for us. If I'm still around, you can bet I will still be resisting using 'ur'.

Chance or Opportunity? You decide

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Maybe I'm just getting grumpier with age, but these days I tend to mentally edit a lot of what I read in newspapers, magazines and online. One of my main causes to get out the mental red pencil is the use of the word "chance" when the writer was really describing an "opportunity". What's the difference? I was taught back in communication school there's quite a lot of difference between the words, although both may mean similar things. Let's a have a look at the meanings of both. offers the following meanings, among others, for chance: –noun 1. the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency: Chance governs all. 2. luck or fortune: a game of chance. 3. a possibility or probability of anything happening: a fifty-percent chance of success. 4. an opportune or favorable time; opportunity: Now is your chance. And it says this about opportunity: –noun, plural -ties. 1. an appropriate or favorable time or occasion: Their meeting afforded an opportunity to exchange views. 2. a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal. 3. a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success. You can see areas where both words overlap (ie meaning 4 of chance is similar but slightly different to meaning 1 of opportunity), but let's look at using them in context. One of my clients is Ryde Business Forum, and I organise many events for this association. In the invitations I write, I offer members and guests the opportunity to hear a keynote speaker, not the chance. Chance suggests a gamble in what the visitors might get out of the occasion - it could be good or it could be rubbish; opportunity suggests they're going to hear something to their advantage. If I'm organising a charity auction, I advertise that bidders have the opportunity to win the object of their desire - this isn't a game of chance, they have to put the highest bid in to be successful. If I'm organising a charity raffle, then ticket buyers are told they have a chance of winning as they don't, unlike an auction, have any say over the outcome. If you are writing a media release, copy for your website, an invitation to an event or other promotional material, think carefully before using chance or opportunity to make sure you're using the correct word for the situation. It does make a difference to the way your readers will perceive you and your chosen topic. If you're confused about which word to use, drop me a line on the contact form you'll find on this website!