Look, …right?

“Look…, right?”

The verbal detritus of the modern age? Or effective rhetorical ploys overused?

Here we see every time Presidential Press Secretary Sanders says “Uh, Look…”

Many pundits use “Look…” as a way to corral viewer attention and set their remarks apart from whatever was asked. It’s a way of dismissing everything said earlier, so the speaker can go off on their own private pivot. It is essentially misdirection to reclaim the frame or focus of a discussion. The “Well, actually…” of “pundit-splaining.” When a person is tasked daily with soft-peddling dozens of lies…as Sanders is, right?… one can see how “Look…” might fall into overuse.

Right? This is second on my list of elocutionary effluvia. I call its malignant form “assent begging.” We see this when someone presenting an argument ends a sentence with, “…, right?” begging your assent to a minor premise on the way to a larger claim. Chris Hayes is public enemy #1 on this, but it is widespread.

I don’t mean using “Right?” as a kind of affirmation as in when someone says, “Becky’s kind of a bitch!” and you reply, confirming the assessment, “Right?!?” That’s a flavor of “IKR?” (I know! Right?… another signifier intended to smooth social interaction through agreement…but I digress, right?)

In that ugly but innocuous form it is confirmation of a view, rather than the SOLICITATION of your complicity in a story being told, a theory being advanced.

In the “bad” use of “…, right?” to end a sentence, the speaker is trying to drag you along to their conclusion by getting you to say yes (to assent) to a premise supporting their conclusion, WITHOUT having demonstrated the premise is valid!

Look… quite frequently both of these trashy verbal tics occur together in a single sentence, right? So it proves our language usage is going to hell because the modern media world requires snappy sound bites.

Listen for it. You’ll be amazed how frequently people are begging you to join their theory, effectively coercing you — trying to “get you to yes” on the bigger claim — by begging your unquestioned assent to a building block of their argument. This is a well-tested sales technique which, perhaps because of its success, is now being unconsciously overused, right?

Look. It’s gotta stop. Right? Now?


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