English in the Age of Uncertainty

We are witnessing a whole generation brought up on guesswork.

First we have the strange phenomenon of the interrogative mode of speech, turning every statement into a question by making the voice rise at the end. (Could this have begun with Neighbours? Australians seem to have been the original culprits.)

Equally irritating is the use of the verb to guess when what people really mean is to think or to believe, as in “I guess it’s raining” or “I guess I’ll be late.” There is no guesswork about it. It’s simply fashionable to begin a sentence this way, instead of saying “I think I”ll go for a walk.” (I blame American habits of speech for this.)

And so, the young and the not-so-young-but believe-themselves-to-be-trendy constantly convey their uncertainty about their every move. Personally, I’d rather have a little more decisiveness.

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