Douglas Whaley. Law professor, gay rights advocate, atheist, heart transplant recipient, actor, director, novelist, playwright, bridge player, husband, father, cat owner, storyteller. Much humor and, since the writer is a teacher, advice on many topics.
How To Stop Saying "You Know"
After a four year layoff from teaching, I was back in the
classroom at Ohio State this spring semester.We teach law through a Socratic dialogue, so I spent a good deal of time
in question and answer exchanges with the students.In a way I'd never noticed before my students had become infected by the
verbal diarrhea of saying "you know" every other sentence (and
sometimes more than once in the same sentence!).At one point I couldn't stop myself from
starting class with a few comments about this disturbing trend."You want to impress people—other
lawyers, new acquaintances, judges, your boss—with how articulate you
are," I lectured, "but if, you know, you are constantly, you know,
betraying your inability to, you know, control your sentences, you're going to look
bad, you know?"
This plague is everywhere from the President of the United
States clowning around on Late Night With
Jimmy Fallon last week, to nationally-known law professors we recently brought
to Ohio State making major presentations at a Sports Law event, to close friends
of mine who drive me nuts by peppering their speech with this mindless repetition.Apparently this is an international epidemic,
with the equivalent of "you know" infecting languages other than
English.I've ranted about this difficulty
in a prior post (see below), and, apparently, most people think I'm loony for
caring about it at all.I'm particularly
appalled when I hear myself say the hated words, which happens on very, very rare
occasions, when to my horror I notice I have an early symptom of the spreading
Suppose, however, that you're embarrassed (as you should be)
by this bad speech habit and want to stop.This post is about how to accomplish that.
First of all, you'll need a confederate.Choose someone you converse with a lot, and
who's willing to help you become aware of every time you say the words
"you know" (you can't hear it yourself).Get him/her to promise to quickly reply
"I know" every time you say
"you know"—and, simple as
that sounds, it's no more complicated than that.Of course, it will be irritating to you to have
your discourse interrupted like this, but
that's the point! You need to become
aware of how often you've become a mindless copier of the bad speech patterns
of others, and you'll begin to listen to yourself as you talk.After numerous conversations with your
"I know" friend, you'll be wary of the need to fill any pause in your
thoughts with a banal repetition of "you know."
If you think this is nonsense, try this experiment: listen
to how often you and your friends and people on TV or in casual conversations—stupidly,
mindlessly—clutter their conversations with "you know."Is it okay simply because everyone is doing
it?Running with the herd, dumb as the
rest?Do you want people you're trying
to impress thinking of you as "stupid and mindless"?
Changing right-brain habits like this one is always a hard
task, but who said you only get to do easy things in life?If you're tired of being a slave to the
phrase "you know," then strip it from your vocabulary except when it's
legitimately part of your thought (as in "You know what I mean?" or
"You know my sister, Mary Beth, don't you?" or "You know a lot for
someone so young").
When you're finally cured, buy your "I know" buddy lunch
and celebrate the elimination of this oral curse.Be pleased with yourself.Congratulations!
And then pay
it forward by helping to convert someone as smitten with this disease as you once
were yourself.Hell, let's build a 12-step
program of "I Know Buddies" and get the whole planet back to sounding
Socratic Dialogue in Law School," Jan 31, 2010
Hate 'You Know, 'You Know,'" Nov 28, 2010
Left Brain, Right Brain Life," Jan 17, 2011
Little But Important Rules," Apr 23, 2011
To Be Perfect," Mar 17, 2012 “A
Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013
Since I graduated from law school in 1968 I've always had some sort of legal practice which varied from extensive in the early years, to these days when I'm retired and mostly just doing consulting work for a hefty fee.In this period I've written a lot of letters threatening legal action on behalf of my client (or, on the rare occasion, myself—see Related Posts below).In the classroom I've passed on my advice on how to create an effective letter, and now I offer it to you, blog reader.
A letter threatening legal action almost always discombobulates a recipient who is not him/herself routinely involved in legal actions.I tell my law students that in their coming practices they will often receive such letters (or nowadays even emails), and they will calmly evaluate what to do about them depending on the legal issues involved and the wisdom of litigating them.But the non-legal recipient of such a letter is in a very differen…
Having a dispute with a creditor? One way to win it (and fast) is to send that creditor a "payment in full" check [hereafter "PIFC"] and end it things in your favor. How does this bit of legal magic work? Read on.
It's always been the law that if you and I have an existing contract, either one of us can propose a modification to that contract, and if we both agree, the contract changes accordingly. There are technical names for this. Say, for instance, that I owe you an undisputed amount of $500. I send you an email and ask if you would take my horse Dobbins is settlement of the debt, and you reply in the affirmative. My offer of something different than what was originally owed (the horse for the money) is called the offer of an "accord." Your agreement to take Dobbins is the "satisfaction." Thus an "accord and satisfaction" in our law is nothing more than a fancy name for a modification agreement. I no longer owe you $500; I owe…
For the last few years I have been crossing the country giving lectures on what I now call the "Golden Rule of Mortgage Foreclosures," which is that such foreclosures cannot proceed without production of the original promissory note signed at the closing. A symposium at Western State University Law School last year at which I gave the keynote address turned into a law review article on point, and that law review article is reprinted below in full. The correct citation for the printed version is 39 W. St. U. L. Rev. 313 (2012). As subsequent developments occur I will add them in red to the original article below. Any corrections or suggestions may be sent to me at email@example.com.
Mortgage Foreclosures, Promissory
Notes, and the Uniform Commercial Code By Douglas J. Whaley*
Introduction As is true
of many things in life the Uniform Commercial Code’s statutes concerning the