Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Alright

Here's a conversational exchange I almost never hear:
"How are you doing?"

"Alright. How are you doing?"

"Alright."
It is almost invariably rendered in one of two abridged forms:
"How ya doing?"

"How ya doing?"
or:
"Alright."

"Alright."
with the last syllable stretched far beyond its standard length.* In both cases any true sense of questioning has been lost, and it's simply a formulaic greeting/acknowledgement. I'm quite fond of (and typically use) the first. A question that requires no response? Wonderful. But I love the second. A response that requires no question? Fantastique!

* I know the first form is in broad use, but I'm trying to remember if I've heard the second form elsewhere or if it's a regional thing. Far-flung correspondents, please enlighten me.

4 comments:

  1. "How ya doin?" is common up north in NY state too. I use it all the time. However, I don't hear "alriiiiight" very much up in these parts in response to the question. I do hear "alriiiiight" though when someone either hits a lotto number or fortune shines upon him/her in some other way.

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  2. I actually confused someone by answering a greeting question with the same greeting question today, so perhaps neither form has caught on here. The conversation fell into awkward silence as he clearly expected me to answer first.

    "Alright" as a greeting is far too laidback for the English. I think I've heard it in south-central L.A., but never London.

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  3. Good. Good. And I'll just add the the lotto/good fortune "alriiight" has a slightly different intonation from the greeting "alriiight". The latter has an upturn on the last syllable, intoned much as if it really was in response to a question, even though the question is never asked.

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  4. tenor saxophone calling me home11:06 PM

    only in new orleans. and i've always wondered whether "ahright" was a preemptive response or an observation - even a blessing.

    please don't ask this poor soul how he's doin'. i'm sauced and broke and don't have nowhere to go, but don't worry about me because i'll be fine. so don't embarrass me by asking. check you out, though. aren't you blessed, and well-meaning, too! that's ahright. "ahright." carry on with your bad self.

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