No, I’m really wishing you all a great Christmas weekend. It’s just that I came across an opinion piece over at NPR which deals with that phrase in the title. I never really paid much attention to it whenever I heard it uttered by friends. Even though I have somehow earned a reputation for correcting other people’s grammar (or flinching at least), I have been trying to be more tolerant in the past year. After all, I also believe that language is so dynamic that changes are unavoidable.
Scott Simon, however, simply cannot stand it when he hears “I’m just sayin’/saying” being said. I can’t really blame the guy. If I received e-mails and messages like the one below, I would also have an aversion to the phrase. 1
“You are witless, stupid and immoral, and I wouldn’t let you near my tropical fish for fear you would contaminate them with your depravity. Just sayin’!”
What is this phrase supposed to mean anyway? If you take a closer look at that example – which I assume is from a real e-mail – it is pretty obvious what the writer was doing. He (or she, for that matter) just let out a barrage of insulting words and then backtracked to wash his hands clean somehow. It actually reminds me of a line from one of those stupid movies: “With all due respect, sir, f— you!”2 Just because you put out a disclaimer, it doesn’t mean you can get away with being rude, stupid, or silly!
So what’s the point in using the phrase? I honestly don’t know. I guess it is one of those grammatically sound statements that do not convey much. In fact, it just serves to add confusion, doesn’t it?
I think Scott Simon hit the nail right on the head with his piece. Although some of his examples are borderline ridiculous, I do see where he is coming from. That fact may actually have helped in driving the point home.
For the record, I might use the phrase here and there – blame it on the Christmas “spirits” – but I would not dare use it in my writing. How about you? What do you think about saying “Just saying”?
P.S. Yes, that image was chosen on purpose, as I’ll be enjoying the warmth of the sun at the beach in a few days. I’m just saying.