You Know You Know


Sir, - As a product of the de Valera era when instruction in the first language was mandatory, I was relieved to see English subtitles on a recent RTE television programme in Irish. A young woman speaking in the native tongue, however, kept repeating something that apparently was not being translated in the subtitles. It was not the expression, "The 1916 Rising", which she rendered in excellent English - I suppose there are some things which simply work better in English. No, this was one of those tic-like things that people keep on repeating.

I listened intently, curious to find out why this was not being translated. Then suddenly it dawned on me that what she was saying was not Gaelic at all, it was "you know". This pernicious and pandemic syndrome has now clearly crossed all geographical and cultural boundaries.

Many years ago, when I was living in San Francisco, I recall - correctly, I think - reading the following in the Wall Street Journal:

You know, you know, you know, you know -

Why do people go on so,

Littering their conversation

With that stupid reiteration?

Of course I know,

You know I know,

You continually tell me so!

I'm sorry to say that this seems just as apt here and now. - Yours, etc.,

Seapoint, Co Dublin.