My first response any time someone under forty talks to me is – ‘Huh?’ Holy Hannah, I never figured anybody could talk that fast so consistently. They got machine gun mouths on ‘em. What? They got computer chips in their faces or what?
“Oh – good morning Mr. Epp.” (translation)
“What’s your special today?”
“Huh? Just let me see a menu.”
Turns out the special is strawberry pancakes, brown toast and a poached egg. I figure they’re short a ‘tat’ or two. I point my finger to it and say “I’llhavethat” as fast as I can.
The waitress says “Huh?”
Ha! I got her back. Let’s see how she likes being talked to like that. I smile sweetly. She figures it out.
I don’t know how they manage to understand a word they themselves say, talking that fast, never mind anybody else. It must be an evolutionary thing that’s happening before our very eyes. Well look at the written word for example. We used to complain about spelling mistakes, but they’re not mistakes at all. People intentionally spell that way. I don’t know how that will bode for dictionaries in the future. But the screwed up written word seems to have migrated to the spoken word.
I know I’m not a fast talker, never was, but trying to keep up with these youngsters is really tough. Last week I took some of my recordings and kept cranking up the speed until it was equal to that of these young speakers. What a riot that turned out to be. It sounded just plain silly – a little like Chip and Dale, the chipmunks.
Well I don’t know where this is all going to go, but it seems like a collision course with disaster. It certainly throws a monkey wrench into my storytelling, that’s for sure. My fastest little bedtime story that I used to tell the kids for a joke suddenly becomes relevant. It’s a little like reading the title of Leo Tolstoi’s “War and Peace” and saying you’ve read the whole book.
Apparently it’s all about multi-tasking. They got no time for anything – not even talking, for heaven’s sake. They’re too busy multi-tasking. The problem is they can’t even do that successfully. There was a documentary on TV last night where one of them fast talking young people was pitted against a middle aged old klutz in a multi-tasking exercise of focusing on a particular task at hand. Turns out the old geyser had a much better handle on focusing than the young whipper-snapper.
So what does that tell us? It tells me we’re losing again. Not only do they not have time to talk properly, they can’t focus either. No wonder the world is going to hell in a hand basket. It wasn’t all that long ago that we had the ability to remember a story word for word without any written notes, and had the focus sufficient to listen to the whole thing. Now suddenly we babble away at lightning speed, unable to understand the content of what is said, and without the ability to focus long enough to figure it out.
To me that’s a net loss to humanity- what they used to call backsliding. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.