Not really sure how to punctuate that title but I do know that it seems to be the millennial phrase of the moment. And it won’t last long, so you better catch it while you can.
I first noticed the phrase being used profusely by wait staff in restaurants. You would order a particular dish and when the waiter asked you if you enjoyed your meal you might respond that it was very good and spicy. To which the waiter would respond, “I know right?” I find this response very endearing, because the intent is right there on the surface. She is agreeing with you that it’s spicy and not in a condescending way, as though you’re an idiot baby boomer and you just figured out the green chile is going to be hot. Rather, the objective is to convey camaraderie. She has eaten the same dish and also thought it was very spicy. You two are now simpatico.
I’m not suggesting that millennials are intentionally using this phrase to establish a connection with customers or older adults. At least the different speakers that I’ve heard using it come across as very genuine. I put a question mark at the end of the phrase and no comma after the word “know” because there is no pause but there is a slight upward inflection at the end of the sentence (technically known as HRT….high-rise terminals). It’s also called “uptalk” and is generally popular with teenagers and millennials, but I’ve heard uptalkers all my life, so it’s been around a long time. I find that it conveys a shyness or unassertiveness, but some people think it conveys a lack of conviction. The speaker is agreeing with you but the upward inflection gives them a way out if you don’t agree.
Too technical? OK, that was a real question. The answer is maybe, but baby boomers better get used to millennial speech patterns because they are going to be talking to us everywhere we go for many more years to come. Linguists suggest that younger speakers will grow out of uptalk over time.
To which I say, I know right?
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He’s written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.