Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Modest Proposal for Improvement of the English Language OR Betty's Gonna Snap: One in an Occasional Series

This is a close-up of a cactus.
You didn't know that?

Betty is all for verbiage. Take her to a party and wind her up. She likes to talk and likes to respond to people talking. She considers this act high on the evolutionary scale and is proud to be a walking/talking mammal.

However, there is one particular phrase that I would like to nominate for exclusion from everyday conversation. This is my humble request and I am generously giving people a grace period of six months to rid themselves of this odious series of words, placed together and followed with a question mark.

First, let me just set a scene:

Fresh off an extensive feast of documentaries about World War II, and in particular the Japanese culture/involvement, I was at a party and sharing some of my new found knowledge with a woman who seemed genuinely interested. (I would find out later she was slightly drunk and was just trying to focus on my rapidly moving lips.)

She nodded when I spoke, she had the right kind of eye contact, her face showed an interest which led me to keep spouting off, spewing information which I found fascinating and I knew she would too. Finally, I stopped and she said it:

"You didn't know that?"

To save the social situation I mumbled something about well, yeah, I had heard of a lot of that stuff, but found these films really interesting....

Then I went and ate massive amounts of cheese.

Since that incident, I have thought a lot about that phrase and have come to the conclusion that there is no altruistic purpose in it. OK, so you are astonished that someone didn't know something. In what way does pointing it out aide/help that person?

So, my people, I am advocating for a complete abandonment of this phrase.

OH! You are shocked! You disagree with Betty?

OK, my Dumplings, perhaps you can think of a situation in which it is meant in a kind, non-demeaning way. (I have actually thought of one that will be included at the end of this post.)

Please inform Betty.

It is NOT even a matter of intonation and emphasis on a particular word.

Consider the following examples:

"You didn't know that?"
"You didn't know that?"
"You didn't know that?"
"You didn't know that?"

All of these are useless and serve only to make the speaker feel superior.

Important Note: I am not against this phrase used without the question mark. I can see the value in this.

New Employee: "Oh, was I supposed to get a giant bag of pork rinds for the big meeting?"

Experienced Employee: "Oh yeah. It's OK. You didn't know that. You can pick some up this afternoon when you go out for the blow-up deer for tonight's big company dance."

So, I would like to eliminate this this phrase from ordinary conversation. Are you with me? Can we start the REVOLUTION, my people?

Yes, it's time for that question to go from ordinary conversation. HOWEVER, it's FINE for literature such this scene from my upcoming Romance Novel: Forbidden Secretions.

He held her close and she could feel his hot breath on her supple, swan-like neck neck.

"You are so beautiful. I have always loved you. I have always worshiped you, my darling. You don't how I have longed to hold you close," he said.

She gasped and whispered, "But you shunned me for years, preferring the beautiful Duchess, calling me a no-good daughter of a pig farmer and spitting at me as you drove by in your golden carriage."

He tilted her head up toward his, his shirt buttons (conveniently being snaps) popping open, exposing his hard, chiseled, yet strangely well-moisturized chest. Their eyes met and her heart blazed up. "I longed for you," he said. "My spitting at you was the closest I could get to exchanging bodily fluids with you. You have always been the love of my life. You didn't know that?"*

Now THAT my people is where this phrase belongs, not on our lips.**

*This denotes "I was an idiot for not letting you know."

**Don't get cute with Betty and try the "Didn't you know that?" variation. It means the same thing. But then, you knew that, didn't you?


Anonymous said...

that, didn't you know?

know you that not?

not that you are apt not to know?

knowing not you know not of?


Bossy Betty said...

These are all Betty Approved.

Thank you for your contributions to bettering our language.


Brian said...

I like cheese, but I have to admit I don't know much about it, despite having been raised in a cheese factory.