what i mean

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Apr 5 21:11:01 UTC 2005

over on soc.motss today (5/5/05), michael palmer asked:
When did...
"ya know what I mean" become a punctuation mark?  Yesterday one of my
students used it to end six consecutive sentences.  Finally, the devil
got the best of me:  I stopped him and said, "No, I haven't a clue
what you mean.  Please explain".

jess anderson hazarded the guess:
About 1960.

and robert coren continued:
I was going to suggest 1923. We'd probably both be on the late side.

Ring Lardner had a sharp ear for verbal tics of this sort, and I'm
remembering a passage from his story "Champion" in which the
protagonist's manager, giving a newspaper interview, says "Get what I
mean?" after about two sentences in three. Not word for word what
Michael quoted, but close enough.

has anyone here tracked this sort of thing?


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