Monday

December 22nd, 2014

Looking at Language

Do You Have A Problem, You Know, With 'No Problem'?

 Richard Lederer

By Richard Lederer

Published August 28, 2014

Do You Have A Problem, You Know, With 'No Problem'?
Dear Mr. Lederer: What's happened to our society? I think that when someone says, "Thank you," the proper response should be "You're welcome," But all too often we hear "No problem." I have a problem with "No problem." Do you?

- Jim Bried, Poway

It does appear that, after hearing a "Thank you," hardly anyone these days responds, "You're welcome." What we usually hear is "Thank YOU" or "No problem."

I can understand a "Thank YOU" following a "Thank you." A radio or TV host concludes an interview with "Thank you," and the guest, wanting to show appreciation, responds, "Thank YOU!"

But, like Jim Bried, I have a problem with "No problem."

At a restaurant, I ask my server for extra lemon for my tea. When he delivers the lemons, I say, "Thank you" - and he says, "No problem." I want to grab him by the collar and snarl, "Of course it's no problem! It's your job!"

If, on the other hand, someone goes a + b the c of d (alphabetically that stands for "above and beyond the call of duty"), I am more accepting.

I was recently in my book booth at a convention and found that I was short on small bills. A kindly women offered $1 and $5 bills for my larger ones, explaining that she always carries small bills for people who need them. To my "Thank you" she said, "No problem." That was copacetic with me because she had gone a + b the c of d.

Dear Mr. Lederer: As Peter Finch bellowed in the movie "Network," "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" I'd love to see your thoughts about the virus in our language spreading throughout conversations from family and friends, plus TV and radio announcers. That verbal tic is you know.

During a business call last month, the gent on the line said, "you know" 12 times in one minute. That's one you know every five seconds, which may not be a record but it's a heckuva good average. Arghhh!!!

Bill O'Reilly fines his guests for using the cliché "at the end of the day," but he uses you know more often than he should. Please share with the world your views on this communicative disease.

- Navy Capt. Len Kaine, Ret., Coronado

Retired Air Force Col. Barney Oldfield calls you know "a pimple on the English language." He got so fed up with the growing plague of you know's that he offered a $1,000 scholarship to the Nebraska student who would submit a recording of a radio or television broadcast with the most you know's.

The champion you know hunter and winner of the $1,000 scholarship was 13-year-old seventh-grader Dalton Hartman. He submitted a recording of a radio interview with a University of Nebraska athlete. The exchange was punctuated by 41 you know's in four minutes, 38 seconds - one you know every 6.78 seconds!

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JWR contributor Richard Lederer is a language maven. More than a million of his books, which have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild alternate selections, are in print. His latest work is Presidential Trivia: The Feats, Fates, Families, Foibles, and Firsts of Our American Presidents

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