Tuesday, September 10, 2013

P&M X - All Right

(We are back at Phrases and Meanings again. You can torture yourself with the entire series here)

There are those phrases which make you wonder why the Human race ever bothered to invent language - and a multitude of them at that. I mean, if the entire meaning to be derived is entirely based on facial expressions, tone of voice and context, why bother to use the words at all?

If there is one prime example of such a phrase, it is 'All Right'. It can mean what it purports to mean sometimes but, more often than not, it means that things are not all right at all and how much that fall short of being all right can be gauged by all those non-verbal cues.

For example, you have a telephonic argument with your wife and she slams the phone down with an "All Right!" Do you think that you have convinced her with the scintillating logic of your argument or worn her down by your persistence? That phrase in this context only means, "Alright Buster, just get home tonight and I will teach you what it means to argue with me."

There you are in a meeting vehemently putting forth your point in a meeting and your boss says, "All right!" You feel you have impressed your boss with your acumen? Ah! The folly of youth! All your boss means is, "Alright lad, we will see how much misery you can stand in the coming days. Argue with me, will you?" The problem is that you read that slogan "The Boss is always right" on the wall behind his desk and assumed it to denote his sense of humor - when it was merely a reminder to you to watch your behavior.

At home with your spouse you are in your element arguing against what you are being asked to do. Merely because it is a matter of getting you off your ass - which will otherwise take a crane to do, your spouse stomps off with an "All right!" and you feel immensely satisfied at having gained your point. Little do you know that this time it means,"All right, you bum, let us now see how you get me to do anything at all in future."

There is one "All Right!" that is the most dangerous of all. If you ever get to hear it in that tone of voice, rest assured that nothing will be all right with your life from that moment on.

So, you do not believe me or like what I said? All Right!

55 comments:

  1. Suresh, I am quite tempted to say 'All right' but since you don't have the luxury (or misfortune) of watching my face, I'll just forget it. Yes, I love your casual flicks all the way to the boundary!

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    1. And I love the way you field them with elan :)

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  2. Many a time, this 'all right' means 'all wrong' and we cannot even sense it! Another brilliant piece, Suresh.

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    1. Thanks Diwa! And what a pleasure to see "Many a time" after all the times I have seen "Many a times" :)

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  3. Alright... all right... aha! all right, I got the point.

    By the way, were you aware that there is a brand of ceterizine that has the brand name Alright? So I gather, the 'all right' that we're talking of has ceterizine-like anti-histaminic anti-allergic qualities... a simple phrase that blocks an overflowing nose and sedates mildly! :)

    Arvind Passey
    www.passey.info

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  4. Good Morning Suresh and How are you? The Series was a good one, though I may be wrong but I don't care, because we can always agree to disagree and anyways I know nobody understands me. By the way you can drop in at any time, at my blog of course, if you assumed I was inviting you to my home, it's all right! But for that you will have to Guess who I am :) And yes I like criticism :)

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    1. Wow Seena! THAT is the series in a nutshell :)

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  5. There are many words like O.K, that's all which may mean different in different contexts and expressions. But in most of the cases the transmitter and receiver successfully decodes the code.

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    1. Hmm! That has not been my experience - that successful decoding :) By and large, most ,misunderstandings between people seem to occur because of lack of success in this :)

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  6. As always an interesting and enjoyable read :)

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  7. There is a word in Khasi - Khublei ... and it means the following, Hello, Good Morning, Good Day, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, Good Night, Hi, How are you, ... and perhaps a few more things I may have missed. Its all dependent on the situation facial expression and intonation.

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    1. I hope they did not bother to also have words for all those things and still use Khublei - like we do in English :)

      Khasi, hmm! Takes me back to my IIM days when I had a batchmate from the Khasi tribe called M.B.Blah - a more misnamed person I have not seen since he had hardly been heard to utter a word :)

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  8. Alright, alright we get it. But I wonder if, like, you've covered like, the word 'like' in your series. Otherwise that's, like, so unfair.

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    1. This is phrases Subroto! When I start on words - that will be my first :)

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    2. OMG,if you start on words now where will it end?

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    3. I won't don't worry - of course if people keep egging me on like this how long can I hold out :)

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  9. I couldn't agree with you more." All Right" seems to be peculiar to Indians.
    I had a business contact with an Italian company for years.
    After my second visit to Italy,this man told me that he was amused to hear " All Right" when in India.Be it hotels,business meetings or whatever.

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    1. And we use it to convey cordiality to hatred :)

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  10. the best use of all right is when you use it to threaten...:) atleast I like it that way.

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  11. Attacking with words and using phrases that convey the opposite is a well-versed version of diplomacy.

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    1. That is one of those words - the sort of things that get called diplomacy :)

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  12. You're right, there are so many phrases that could be used in this series. "All right", depending on the tone of voice when said, can be taken different ways. "Okay" can be taken in a similar vein, depending on intonation. All right, I've said enough :) Have a good one! I will keep checking in.
    :) Penny

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    1. Thanks Penny! Yes there are a lot and I have taken up eleven of them already and there is more where these came from :)

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  13. All right, now that was quite an alright post

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  14. All right, the first example did it for me. Hope it is alright with you...?

    P.S. Note how I'm trying to get smart with 'All right' after you reminded us to be alright ?

    Darn..enough..........zzzzzzzz

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  15. Yep, all right is a weapon of subtle destruction. More often than not, it is used just to bring a discussion to an end!

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  16. All right, now I know I can use it whenever i do not have anything else to say :P

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    1. Use it in the right tone or you will frighten everyone away :)

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  17. All right! And I love the sound of the word...it is often said to agree without agreeing much :)

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    1. Or to agree disagreeably or to disagree agreeably - so many avatars that phrase takes, Ekta! :)

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  18. :) All Right!! Yes, maybe the most dangerous of phrases...do read the tone before getting too happy with the 'All Right!' of the Mrs....just saying...All Right?

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    1. Of course! Perfectly :) Who dares say 'No' when a lady asks "All Right?", Aditi? :)

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  19. Wasn't this 'The Boss is always right' intended with much sarcasm? When did this sarcasm drain and leave the real thing behind.

    Darn!



    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. Intended sarcastically? There you go blaspheming again :)

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  20. There's also the bored All right.. that comes off from the bored dozing audience in a post lunch meeting... Awww Right.. :)
    Nice one!

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    1. Missed that one didn't I? The 'When are you going to finish?" version :)

      Thanks Pradyumna!

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    2. In fact I was reading this post lunch after saying the awww right... next presenter please... And I broke off laughing.. :D

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    3. Hahaha! Good to know I made you laugh :)

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  21. So this one was intended to be used sarcastically, in the negative sense and we serious people took it literally! Just stumbled upon this series. Very nice, will catch up with the other phrases :-)

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  22. Undoubtedly this phrase can fox the innocent.

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    1. Most phrases in my list do that - begs the question what were we thinking of when we started verbal communication? :)

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  23. I have used this 'alright weapon' many times :D ...but it was fun reading about it :)

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  24. After suffering two heart attacks, undergoing a complicated bi- pass surgery and handling a body with diabetes, weak lungs and a heart working at 40% , my dad used to say 'I am perfectly all right' whenever someone asked him how he was :D . Sometimes it also means taking things positively I suppose. Hey thats a slight deviation from the gist of your post I agree. :D

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    1. Yes it does :) It is All Right used as an independent phrase I mean not when it is used in sentences :)

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  25. Best part of your posts are the endings.All right mate!!

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    1. Been taught in school that the conclusion has to make an impact. :)

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