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How We’re Talking, Like, Today

Verbal tics, and what they say about us. “I’m just saying.” “To tell you the truth.” “As far as I know.”

Beyond the typical "kids these days" complaint, plenty of other language trends crop up regardless of age. (Erin Nekervis / Creative Commons)

Beyond the typical “kids these days” complaint, plenty of other language trends crop up regardless of age. (Erin Nekervis / Creative Commons)

They creep into your speech.  “I’m just saying…”  “To tell you the truth…” “I don’t mean to be mean, but…”  And then you deliver the blow.  “Your meal tastes awful.”  “Your presentation bombed.”  “You need to lose weight.”  Those wind-ups before the strike are called tee-ups.  We’ve been adding them to our speech for generations.  Most of us don’t even realize we’re doing it.  It can give tough judgments a veneer of politeness.  A ramp – “with all due respect” – to then take people down a notch – “you can’t go out looking like that.”   This hour, On Point: tee-ups and what they say about us.


Elizabeth Bernstein, Bonds columnists for The Wall Street Journal. (@EbernsteinWSJ)

James Pennebaker, professor and chair of the department of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Author of “The Secret Life Of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us.” (@jwpennebaker)

Brandt Johnson, co-founder and principal of Syntaxis, a communications skills training firm in New York City. Author of “Presentation Skills For Business Professionals.”

Kenneth Baclawski, Jr., graduate student in linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.

From The Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Why Verbal Tee-Ups Like ‘To Be Honest’ Often Signal Insincerity – “Certain phrases just seem to creep into our daily speech. We hear them a few times and suddenly we find ourselves using them. We like the way they sound, and we may find they are useful. They may make it easier to say something difficult or buy us a few extra seconds to collect our next thought. Yet for the listener, these phrases are confusing. They make it fairly impossible to understand, or even accurately hear, what the speaker is trying to say.”

Edmonton Journal: Why all the cray-cray words? – “Have I gone cray-cray, or has English become just a little too adorbs? Peeps are buying prezzies and making restaurant rezzies, they’re sharing email addies and eating bacon sammies with their swag boyfs. They’re getting jeal cos their hubs chatted up some hottie. They’re tweeting selfies and shelfies and drelfies, liking fails, hearting pics from their BFF’s winter vacay. Totes ridic! Obvs I get that language changes. ”

New York Times: They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve — “The idea that young women serve as incubators of vocal trends for the culture at large has longstanding roots in linguistics. As Paris is to fashion, the thinking goes, so are young women to linguistic innovation.”

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  • TyroneJ

    Language has been going to hell in a hand basket since the dawn of time.

    • hennorama


  • Coastghost

    So, will the prefatory “so” which NPR has taken to modeling each and every hour of the day for the past year or two (both among staff and guests) merit discussion? (If it’s this ubiquitous on NPR programming, I can only begin to imagine how popular the locution is on television.)

  • Markus6

    Fun topic. I’ve found that there are terms that, though not unique to NPR, seem to crop up more often here than other places. They’re a bit grating because they’re almost always less concise than the alternatives, plus they sound a bit pretentious.

    A “narrative” instead of a story or something simpler.
    “Stewardship” which sounds pleasant but could be just about anything.
    “Disingenuous” which is a polite way of saying someone’s lying (this one seems fine as it’s always good to be polite).

    Although the one that bugs me is thank you “so much”. What was wrong with “very much”?

    Ok, I need to get over myself.

    • nj_v2

      Advertising language takes this to another level.

      Everything—sales, store openings, whatever—is an “event.”

      But we expect this from advertising.

  • Coastghost

    The New York Times must be in wholesale flattery mode of late: I see here their praise of young women’s contributions to “linguistic innovation”. My!
    Were the Times just as giddy with sobriety, the line just above might have read: “As Paris is to couture, the thinking goes, so are young women to linguistic fashion.”

  • ChristopherNoel

    The two tics I find most annoying are 1) interviewees on TV and radio answering a question with “So…” or “Sure, so…” and 2) the double-is construction: “The problem is is that we don’t have the funding.” Here is a ten-second audio clip to illustrate what I mean. http://youtu.be/8K7xW-YYEM0

    • geraldfnord

      The interviewee tic I find most annoying is ‘That’ s a good question, . ‘ It is a device for temporising while attempting to stroke the host through the use of the familiar given name.

  • nj_v2

    Pet peeves…

    • Dropping the g at the end of ing. Nearly everyone does it in nearly all contexts, even in formal presentations. Obama does it all the time, even in instances where he’s not deliberately affecting a faux-folksy demeanor. “We’re gonna get this done.”

    • Teevee “news’” misue of the present tense. “We’re back after this message.” And the constant casting, especially in headlines, of past events in the present tense.

    • Department of Redundancy Department: Though certainly not limited to them, for some reason, teevee “meteorologists” seem especially prone to this. (Aside: Gotta find me a job where i can be wrong 40% of the time and not get fired.)

    Actual examples:

    “This might become some kind of semi-permanent situation for a while.”

    “It will be almost just about as sticky as it was yesterday.”

    “Temperatures reached 100º for 20 consecutive days in a row.”

    “…fourth-greatest snowiest winter on record.”

    “…nothing more than a possible chance of precipitation.”

    • geraldfnord

      Substituting the terminal ‘-n’ for ‘-ng’ may be part of people’s desperate attempts not to appear smart or educated.

      I can’t fight it, as ‘Fightin’s not in style, fun’s where the Fair’s at! ‘

    • nj_v2

      I was misled by the headline that the program was about language in general. Obviously now realizing that it’s on this specific aspect of performatives. ( : : : excusing my somewhat off-topic examples : : :)

  • ChristopherNoel

    Pundits saying “Look…” every third sentence: “Look, let’s me clear…”

    • geraldfnord

      I think it’s an attempt to say ‘My status and/or power allows me to give you orders’ as indicated by using the imperative, with the strong implication of ‘…therefore what I say is true’ as one of the significant definitions of ‘true’ is always ‘what higher-status/power members of the tribe say’.

  • Coastghost

    A pity language maven Celeste Headlee is not a guest for this “On Point” segment: I just heard her talking up this afternoon’s “Tell Me More” program in which she celebrates the “meteoric rise” of some tech somebody.
    And people ever suspect journalists of debasing both thought and language?

  • Citizen James

    Here’s a cute story: When living in Madrid I was friends with a German. In one conversation he put forth a solid criticism of Spaniards for using the empty phrase, “pues, nada…” to fill in a quiet moment. I agreed and then came a moment of silence. He broke it with no reflection with the German word, “So….”.

  • geraldfnord

    They’re all like attempting to imitate Lumpy Space Princess because they either want lumps like hers, or like want to get at her lumps, and that’s not happening because you can’t handle these lumps and they’re not for you, even though everyone loves them and wants them so much.

    (‘What time is it? ‘/’ Making Unrecognised-to-too-many-readers Time! ‘… apologies.)

  • geraldfnord

    I mourn the dying of the gerundial…and were it that the subjunctive might live!

    (Then again, I miss thorn, yogh, and ash.)

  • monicaroland

    This should be a great show. One phrase that is becoming more and more common is “you know,” as kind of a substitute for “uh,” I think. Several times I’ve heard a news person answering a question with, “You know, we don’t know,” which is hilarious. I’m finding “you know” to be very tiresome!

  • mumtothree

    Seen in a PowerPoint slide: “Other Metrics Measured.”

    The difference between an American and a British business presentation: We begin with “Well,” they begin with “Right.”

  • Coastghost

    How many nervous “you knows” were we subjected to in the first three minutes? Maybe microphones are the chief culprit . . . .

  • longfeather

    Performitive statements , lying, is the fodder of Sunday morning talk shows. And when I hear a Tee up, I stop it right there by saying, “Before you speak, remember you are on probation…” Then I pause giving them a second chance to rethink their approach.

  • RolloMartins

    Cannot stand the phrase, “the fact that.” Usually what follows is someone’s opinion.

  • Krissy

  • mairelena

    The funniest tee up I have ever heard came from a conversation with my father-in-law decades ago. It went like this: “It’s none of my business and I don’t care but . . . . ” and then he stopped talking. So I guess he decided that if the first part of the sentence was true, he just shouldn’t say it.

  • nj_v2

    Drinking game: Count the ummms, uhhs, and you knows used by the guests.

  • DeJay79

    saying “no offense” says exactly what I want it to say as I would use it.

    It means I know I am about to say something that may or will likely offend you but what I have to say is important to either you are me and I would like you to restrain your first emotional response and hear me out on what I have to say… hence No offense but… says it all!

    To have conversations with out these verbal ques would much less efficient.

    • nj_v2

      It’s one thing when a “performative” is used as a heads-up that some of what follows may be critical or controversial when the comments are genuine, well-considered, and respectfully expressed.

      It’s another thing when it’s used either willfully or subconsciously to frame or excuse deceptiveness.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    I have learned to use “I statements” – that is phrases that start with “I think …” or “I’m curious …” etc., rather than “You are …” or “You should …” etc.

    I think of the work of Marshall Rosenberg on honest communication. His web site is here:


    And there’s the wikipedia article about him and his work:


  • hennorama

    “With all due respect,” you’re [insert negative comment here].

  • Robin Moore

    Two things: One, sometimes I say things like, “with all due respect,” and MEAN it – I might want the person to know that, although I am about to tell them something they may not want to hear, I really DO respect them and I want them to know that. I think that the difference may be that I am giving them further information rather than telling them how to feel.

    Two, perhaps an alternative way to say things is to to state something in a more honest way in that it really acknowledges the fact that something is your feelings and your opinion and you are not trying to control or judge someone. I’m thinking specifically of “I” statements, and talking about how what someone is doing or say is affecting you and making you feel – i.e. “When you interrupt me, it makes me feel frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m being heard,” instead of, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you interrupt people all the time.” No one can say something you’re feeling isn’t true for you.

  • Nicholas Herold

    “So,” I’m “a little” confused. I have tried to teach my children to be polite. Why not insert some of these tee-ups if they are seen as a polite opening? I call them “nosegays.” Why not get rid of “Dear Sir?” What did Elizabeth’s email to her editor end up saying, since she evidently deleted the “I just wanted to let you know…” clause?

  • Krissy

    Hi Jane – It’s funny that you just said that you were afraid you were going to say a phrase like that on air because I actually remember earlier on the show you were discussing something and you said “I hate to be rude but that’s the end of my pitch”! I thought you might find that funny. – Krissy

  • John_in_VT

    One of my business favorites is in rejections letters. Many of them contain the phrase “We had many fine applicants.” The unsaid part is: “But you weren’t one of them.” or “But you just didn’t measure up.”

  • hennorama

    I totally know what you mean?

  • jgeigerphoto

    What does “I’m just sayin’ ” qualify as?

    • hennorama

      jgeigerphoto — or the related “know what I’m saying?”

    • DeJay79

      it is the short form of ” I’m not saying [blank] I’m just saying [blank].

      where the two blanks could easily be considered opposite of each other yet the person speaking believes that they are not meant that way in this usage. Then if the first blank is obvious based on what the second one is then the whole first part can be cut out.

    • Cynth

      Since it doesn’t precede a statement, it’s not a tee-up; but it serves a similar purpose to some tee-ups by attempting to distance oneself from the statement, or to avoid, diffuse, or neutralize a negative emotional reaction. Similar statements are “I’m just stating a fact….” or “I’m just putting it out there…”

  • RolloMartins

    Another one: Can I just ask a quick question? Just ask it already. There’s no question quicker than another, and what would that mean anyway? Are you being timed?

  • longfeather

    I would like to see a running tally of Performitive Statements running below the screen on Sunday talk shows. I still wouldn’t watch them because I am over it, but I sure would like to look up the tally’s on the different talk sunday talk shows so I could keep score on the interviewers skills.

  • Joady

    My pet peeve is “Excuse me”. My sons, now 21 and 17, have been forbidden to use that phrase since they were in elementary school. Today it usually means “Get out of my way, now”; I have heard adults use this one someone shopping or in line in an attempt to get that person to move, a very rude use. The other use is to make bad behavior acceptable, as when someone burbs or curses then says “Excuse me” then repeats the behavior; the formerly apologetic phrase apparently makes the behavior ok.

    • Laurie Anne

      so true! Here in Vermont it is common for people to use foul language, then say “excuse my French!”

  • Laurie_of_TMFree

    Three minutes ago you did a “tick” on the show! “Do your friends avoid having dinner with you? Ha ha! Just making a joke!”

  • Coastghost

    WHAT?!? A Kardashian could have ample grounds for feeling insecure? Tell us more!

    • longfeather

      I thought all the ‘reality housewives of…….” shows had that written in the scrips. One couldn’t be on those shows without it. Those shows could be the reason you hear so many of these nowadays…people trying to be ‘high class.’

  • nj_v2

    In all fairness, Ms. Kardashian did use like correctly there once.

  • Cynth

    Not all tee-ups are created equal. I find that people who exhibit higher EQ tend to avoid the clichéd tee-ups we tend to hear, which are more transparent and fail to provide the intended emotional cushioning.

    I’ve also found that there are differences between high context and low context cultures. Those from high context cultures tend to be more attuned to nuances. Thus, high context tee-ups tend to be more subtle and sophisticated than low-context ones (“Bless your heart” is an exception.)

    I’d like to see what research says.

  • http://www.openeyesvideo.com/ Glenn C. Koenig

    When someone says “I feel that …” what usually follows is a judgement, rather than a feeling. I go here to check myself on what’s more likely a feeling, rather than a judgement:


  • ian berry

    Yeah, no.

    Drives me nuts- apparently most rampant offenders are aged 35-49 years old

  • William Campbell

    This was, like, a totally interesting show of On Point. Just sayin’

    • DeJay79

      I’m not going to lie, I could not agree more.

      • longfeather

        I’m really on your side, too.

      • nj_v2


  • Trent Sorensen

    Could one of your guests speak to the relatively recent phenomenon of people using the tonal tee-up of employing a questioning inflection for every statement that comes out of their mouth. I.e. “I went to the store? And saw a guy? Buying bananas?……” What is this and would it be considered a form of teeing up?

    • Laurie Anne

      Trent, I always notice this too in the voice mail for people’s cell phones…ie.) “you have reached the voice mailbox of….Laurie Anne?” To me it sounds like the person is a bit insecure.
      I also notice it when someone is giving a command to their dog, “sit?”, rather than “sit.”

  • Coastghost

    Ben Jonson was no linguistic or semantic slacker: “Language most shows a man: Speak, that I may see thee.”

    • VeganGalNoLa


  • nj_v2

    Ms. Clayson didn’t know what an emoticon is? Really?

  • NewtonWhale

    “Yeah, no” makes me wonder if the speaker has any idea what they think.

    I’m not talking about the way some people use it to sarcastically emphasize the “no”.

    I mean the way people say it without thinking as a standard tic before they respond.

    I’ve even heard commentators on the Sunday gas bag shows do it. I can’t believe they even know they’re doing it.

    • DeJay79

      guilty as charged.

      I have fun doing this one all the time.

    • VeganGalNoLa

      I didn’t know until fairly recently that some people don’t think BEFORE speaking. I remember asking a former friend about this – when it became obvious to me that this is what was happening with him. He told me “No,” he spoke, then thought. Didn’t know it should/could be otherwise.

      Not exactly the same as me navigating while driving. Needless to say, I dumped him.

  • Chris

    A new “tick” – Answering a question by beginning with the word, “So.”

    I’ve been noticing this recently. And I hear it a lot on NPR.

    Typically, a program host will be interviewing or conversing with a researcher, or a reporter, or correspondent, and typically the person answering the question is relatively young. I get the impression that this is a generational thing.

    Go back and listen to the first hours program, and I’m sure you’ll find a few instances of this.

  • longfeather

    Here is one I use: “Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  • AnnMarieToyle

    Do you have time to comment on Insult-disguised-as-a-compliment? “Your house looks really nice…considering your budget”

    • VeganGalNoLa

      Oooh… That is ugly and impolite. Dismissed!

  • Coastghost

    Young insecure people also uncritically REPEAT what they hear disgorged from television and radio and the internet and social media and . . . .

  • NewtonWhale

    By the way, this topic comes around every generation:

    I dig Rock and Roll music
    I could really get it on in that scene.
    I think I could say somethin’ if you know what I mean


  • AnnMarieToyle

    I hate the phrase “I got news for you”

  • nj_v2


  • AnnMarieToyle

    what do people mean when they wave thier index and middle fingers up in front of them and say “Quote unquote” Where did that come from????

    • VeganGalNoLa

      “So to speak.” Sarcastically-employed visual device.

  • Ms. Spider

    I hear “parenthetically” used more and more these days.

    A cousin to “anecdotally”, I guess.

    • longfeather

      President Reagan’s political operatives used the word ‘anecdotaly’ or ‘that is just anecdotal’ to ignore information and deride the information. In scientific circles, this would be ‘clinical information’ and in mathematical model building it would be equations built on ‘empirical data’ Empirical data is ‘as real as it gets.’
      So the FDA ignored ‘anecdotal’ information and required ‘proof’, which is why we are always laughing about scientific studies that finally ‘prove’ what everybody knows. It is a political tactic – prove it.

  • NewtonWhale

    Yeah, no, I mean, look, the rule that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition just isn’t “in”.

  • nj_v2

    Wait, no one caught this. Ms. Bernstein (~ 52 minutes in) is okay with some performatives (“Let me just tell you”) but not others? Does she have some standard of evaluation?

    • FrankensteinDragon

      i do. sometimes it just gives people time to shift gears and listen…when they might be dwelling on something else. ALl these phrases have this effect and purpose to some degree.

  • ianway

    There’s such a snooty tone to this discussion, interpreting people’s usages as indications of insecurity and dishonesty, and people who exclude tee-ups and fillers as somehow superior. Aren’t these usages just as much people trying to be careful in the terribly difficult act of connecting with someone else? What’s so wrong with that? By the way, did you notice how many times your experts started their comments with “It’s interesting…” Isn’t this insecurity about the validity of their own nitpicking?

    • FrankensteinDragon

      i think rather there is nothing to say about the topic. But I think these phrases are irritating. It just doesnt merit a talk show. what can they say…its not interesting…

    • VeganGalNoLa

      ianway, I appreciate your perspective, but the whole point of the WSJ column and the show is HOW the performatives – LOVE that word – limit, distract and/or kill the connection.

      I am a journalist by-trade and a Southerner, who tends not to use qualifiers. Let’s just say I more times than not ruffle feathers.

      It is SO possible to just say what you mean – while being sensitive/kind. Folks like me and Holden Caulfield will take it so much better.

      • ianway

        I understand, VeganGaINoLa. It’s good advice for how to improve one’s usage, a la Strunk and White. But I’m also wary of classist and generational biases always on display in discussions of propriety. As I said, one might see the tee-ups in particular as simply reflecting a desire to be careful in introducing a delicate subject, which is a sensitivity to others which is very human and very understandable.

        • VeganGalNoLa

          Sure. Because some of us are more human than others, civilized behavior should always be aspired to. :)

  • Laurie Anne

    Talk about laugh out loud…When I first started seeing LOL I thought it meant “lots of love”!

    • hennorama

      Laurie Anne — it’s all about the context … my initial translation of LMAO was Leave Me Alone, OK?

      • VeganGalNoLa

        I’ll need to ask someone what “brb” means. I’m guessing “idk” means “I don’t know.”

        I don’t text; still refusing the mobile tracking device…

  • Clifford Sobkowicz
  • Labropotes

    Having lived in Manhattan for about 20 years, I well remember the importance of asking for directions, or for info, without “Excuse me.” That phrase is so often followed by a request for money that most hardened NY’ers will just keep walking. Just ask the question without any flourishes.

    • nj_v2

      And in most other places, yelling out any request, even for directions, not preceded by, “Hello, how are you? or, “Hello excuse me…” would be considered rude.

      • VeganGalNoLa

        …Hence, the importance of CONTEXT and AUDIENCE in successful communication. :)

    • FrankensteinDragon

      i dont think your audience will catch on as they probably dont read comments on NPR. Maybe there would be less beggars int he street with less traders on wall street and false wars.

  • HM

    I just spewed coffee all over myself this made me laugh. I slip into “up-talk” more than I would prefer, also?

  • Constance Lawn

    I’m really not trying to be cruel, but this show is boring.

    • Cynth

      No tee-ups, they could have had more knowledgeable guests, especially for a show of this caliber.

  • bayoeud

    I just caught a brief bit of this discussion, so if I repeat something already covered, I apologize. I cannot stand the interjection of the words so and right in conversations. I find that those in the NGO community, non-profits, and those within the beltway (including the NPR crowd) are most guilty of this. I heard a physician interviewed once who used the word “so” many more times in a short period of time than Kim Kardashian used the word “like” in your example. My daughter worked in the Teach for America organization, and her speech became extremely contaminated with these two words.

    • Other Chris

      I’ve gotten sick of “So…” leading every sentence; especially as a response to a question. I can remember a time when that was a ‘Valley Girl’ inflection.

  • jgeigerphoto

    Sometimes I feel it’s a false sort of reflective listening; So, ‘what I hear you saying is’…” or So, ‘what I think is ‘…, etc.

  • Michael Difani

    How about “fur” for “for”, “absolutely”, “exactly”, “are you serious”, “whatever” (one of the most hated), “selfies”, “like” as an interjection and “huh” instead of “pardon me” or “excuse me”. Ad nauseum. Some of these are from educated folks over 50.

    • longfeather

      As a senior citizen and grandparent, I think the teens and younger are ‘not violating any laws of nature’ when reacting this way.

  • truegangsteroflove

    My unfavorites are “What’s the takeaway” and “Is this a one-off?” Bad enough by themselves, these new clichés are usually said with a headiness, a deliberate hipness as if the speaker is someone current with trendy speech. Like Tom Ashbrook.

    Nice to hear Jane Clayson. Easier on the ears.

    • FrankensteinDragon

      like chef gordon ramsey.

    • FrankensteinDragon

      i think they’re both bad talk show hosts. hums and haws and affirmations do not make a good show–more analysis and challenging thoughtful questions are needed. And this topic probably didnt merit a whole show. I think toms earlier shows were better. he seems tired. bored. his conversations are dry and empty these days

  • MattCA12

    “With respect, ….” is perfectly acceptable usage. You’re telling the person that you have listened to them, and may even agree with some of what they’ve said or done, but that you have an issue with the gist of it and need to let them know.

    • FrankensteinDragon

      a military man

  • brettearle

    Hey, my Bad…

    But I think the Vernacular has lost it.

  • MattCA12

    My view is that we’re increasingly relying on tee-ups in one to one conversation primarily because our use of language in social media has become too direct. Unconsciously we’re seeking more “layers” between ourselves and people we are actually standing there with.

    • FrankensteinDragon

      im always direct–when i choose to offer my opinion–(depending on tact)–i think it is a myth that the internet has loosened tongues. We are just exposed to a wider influential circle via the net and so see and hear things we wouldn’t have seen in our ca-coons of small town life. The internet is a good analogy for small ponds and big ponds and traveling and going to the big city–all walks of life are encountered–but they have always been there.

    • VeganGalNoLa

      Probably because a reliance on gadgets and screens mean folks now possess fewer social skills, so find it uncomfortable to actually have a face-to-face.

  • georgepotts

    How many times has Barack Obama said, “Let me be clear?”

    • FrankensteinDragon

      the prof. used this as an example to signify ‘lying’ but just because one man used it as a lie doesn’t mean it is–tho politicians are all–ALL liars–but as a politician if you really want to convey a message–something we believe, that may be true and the message is lost amidst nasty politics and media and blowhards on the other side of the aisle unpatriotically distorting your message–or perhaps, people just don’t get it because they haven’t done the research, or they are cynical or distrustful–and the politician or speaker whomever he might be–says “let me be clear’–i think it can genuinely mean–i want to be clear about this–no politics, not deception, please understand me…”

      When some people use it as a lie it doesn’t necessarily mean every use of it is a lie.

      And some people focus on really petty issues to be clear about. A lie–a harmful lie–is mobilizing the world into war over false accusations and false flag events and anthrax that never existed or wmd that never existed or babies in ovens that never existed–GULf 1–or a ship in the Tonkin bay that never existed or countless other false-pretenses America has used to murder innocent people–”like” every single war. you would think the american people would catch on. But somehow they don’t…no offense

      • FrankensteinDragon

        tho I’m sure Obama has said it about the NSA thing and that is “clearly a lie”.

  • FrankensteinDragon

    I dont mean to be rude, but I disagree with the caller interpreting “realistically,”–

    i think the term has more meaning than these other qualifiers –ironically–i think it is used to counter these “t-ups.”– [awful phrase "by-the-way"... (nothing worse than a sports analogy or war analogy--used often on NPR)]

    ex. if somebody is speaking anecdotally, or using “talking points” or spouting stereotypes or myths or bigoted nonsense in friendly conversation or small talk. We all tend to exaggerate truth or “reality”–so when one says “realistically,” they are bringing the conversation back down to reality–to a more honest approximation of something. We can all laugh and exaggerate an idea or use a mean stereotype and then in our speech we realize it might be un-true, or mean, or totally blown out of proportion–and you want to bring the conversation back to more honest, scholarly, academic, rational level. “Yeah, but realistically, we’re not really doing everything we could be doing. We say we are, but…” or “come on, realistically, as much as we want to believe the tea party is grassroots–its just not. Lets be realistic. enough politics.” There are better examples, “but I’m late for a thing.”

  • J__o__h__n

    I hate the overuse of abbreviations. Whatever time it same the writer is usually shifted to making the reader having to decipher them which interrupts communication.

  • J__o__h__n

    Jane said “mm” at least 28 times during the show. I didn’t count the number of uhs and ahs.

  • JohnnySmith0

    To be honest, this article was a bit crap. I’m just saying.

  • Paul_Rand


Sep 3, 2014
This still image from an undated video released by Islamic State militants on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, purports to show journalist Steven Sotloff being held by the militant group. The Islamic State group has threatened to kill Sotloff if the United States doesn't stop its strikes against them in Iraq. Video released Tuesday, Sept. 02, 2014, purports to show Sotloff's murder by the same rebel group. (AP)

Another beheading claim and ISIS’s use of social media in its grab for power.

Sep 3, 2014
In this Fall 2013 photo provided by the University of Idaho, students in the University of Idaho’s first Semester in the Wild program take a class in the Frank Church-River Of No Return Wilderness, Idaho. (AP)

MacArthur “genius” Ruth DeFries looks at humanity’s long, deep integration with nature – and what comes next. She’s hopeful.

Sep 2, 2014
Confederate spymaster Rose O'Neal Greenhow, pictured with her daughter "Little" Rose in Washington, D.C.'s Old Capitol Prison in 1862. (Wikimedia / Creative Commons)

True stories of daring women during the Civil War. Best-selling author Karen Abbott shares their exploits in a new book: “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy.”

Sep 2, 2014
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks with Mark Wilson, event political speaker chairperson, with his wife Elain Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, at the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Ky., Saturday, August 4, 2012. (AP)

Nine weeks counting now to the midterm elections. We’ll look at the key races and the stakes.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Five Midterm 2014 Races To Watch
Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014

The five most interesting races of the 2014 midterm election cycle, per our panel of expert national political correspondents.

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Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

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Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

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