This lies outside my area of expertise (but not my pay-grade), so unlike my researched rants on Cleveland sports, I’m open to being wrong here. But has anyone else noticed the sudden rise of a new locution in the English language? I speak of the phrase, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” not its drawn out form which the Beatles sang in the 1960’s, “Yeeaaah, “Yeeaah, “Yeeaaah,” but its new, snippy, staccato version: three “Yeah’s” spoken in rapid succession, as fast as the speaker can say them. Something like “Y-Y-Yeah.”
I first heard this expression about two years ago, but now everyone I know, including myself, is using it. At first I liked the sound of it, for I felt that the speaker was expressing profound and repeated agreement with me, as in “Verily, verily, verily I agree with thee. Amen and Amen.” But now I suspect that those who use it are really, and for the most part subconsciously, expressing impatience. As in “I agree with you already. Can I talk now?”
Could it be that the rapid pace of our microwave and Internet society has conditioned us to being less patient with each other? We feel pressed for time, in a rush to finish this conversation or this idea so that we can race to our next Tweet. Is technology making us less civil?
Try this experiment. Next time someone gives you the “Y-Y-Yeah,” intentionally slow down the conversation. Draw out your vowels and pause between sentences. See if they squirm and fidget, and time how long it takes them to jump back in and interrupt you. Then confiscate their cell phone.