What if John Paul Jones had said, “I have not yet, you know, begun to fight.”
Or JFK had said, “Ask not, you know, what your country can, you know, do for you.”
Or Reagan had said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down, you know, this wall.”
The irritating “youknow” tic adopted by prominent talk radio hosts (one of them an Ivy League grad) weakens their effectiveness as speakers. It makes them sound unsure of themselves if not foolish.
Live “Man-on-the-Street” interviews from the 1940s, preserved in radio archives on wire recordings or transcription discs, show how much more articulate ordinary adults and teenagers were then, compared to now. Extemporaneously, they actually could express their thoughts logically in grammatical English sentences without inane volleys of “you know,” “like” and “literally.” Mirabile dictu!