“Right?!”

A bit tongue-in-cheek . . .
right hello

. . . but come on!

right true gritOn the set of “True Grit” it seems the men were being a bit profane. Hailee Steinfeld, a prim and proper young woman all of 14 at the time, decided a “swear jar” was in order. If the men swore, blasphemed, cursed, or cussed they had to put a dollar in the jar.

The gentlemen starring with young Hallie complied but had also grown weary of her language. It seems that the young actress had fallen into the habit, as with many others in her generation, using the word “like” as “um,” the inability to discern what else to say.

right jarStatements such as “I was so like,” “He was so like . . .,” and “They were so like . . .” began to irritate the men. So they decided the young miss should ante up a dollar for every one of her improper, ungrammatical uses of the word “like.”

As with “like” we are now being accosted by another incessant misapplication vocabulary. People who end every sentence with the question-exclamation “Right?!” are driving us nuts. The word has become its own punctuation mark. Its incessant use brings with it an insistent claim. The demands can be implied by any or all of the following:

“Right?!” = “Can’t you see that I’m correct?”

“Right?!” = “It’s obvious. There is no room for another perspective.”

“Right?!” = “Just try and contradict me. See what happens!”

“Right?!” = “Let me tell you what the answer is.”

“Right?!” = “You are wrong if you disagree.”

right wrongAnd the higher the decibel level, the shrillness of the voice might add this statement

“Right?!” = “What kind of idiot are you, anyway?!”

Now I admit, we all fall into communication traps from time to time. We overuse words. We misapply words. We are careless with words. We don’t care to learn new words.

I get it. But I’ve decided to speak out on behalf of the rest of humanity who is sick and tired of hearing people say “Right?!” as if they have a Divine Right, a corner on The Bill of Rights, or consider their announcement on par with Civil Rights.

Some of us are tired of hearing “Right?!” because we’re tired of being bullied. That’s right, I said “bullied.” The word “Right?!” is dictatorial, authoritarian, throw-them-in-the-stocks-until-they-agree-with-me tyranny.

right wrong wayYou think I’m wrong about this harangue? Here is what “Right?!” claims:

1. Acceptance: there is no “it’s my way or the highway,” it’s just my way

2. Assimilation: clearly whatever you believed before must be dropped

3. Ascendency: my power, position, and privilege trumps your independence

4. Adoption: you must accede to my point of view without further ado

5. Acquisition: you must become my follower, my minion; I am always right

right failI propose a moratorium on ending sentences with “Right?!”

Those who use the word outside its proper context should be made to drop a dollar in the jar.

You can check Mark’s word choice on his radio show Wednesday 10-noon on Radio Next or find the podcasts here. Dr. Mark Eckel just taught a course on the importance of words and word choice. He really means what he says. Mark is president of The Comenius Institute.

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