Why Are We Tying Up People?

Columbo* was known for saying “just one more thing.”

We seem to have adopted “before I let you go” as a go-to way of asking one last question.

A tip from a “Memmo” reader led to a search today of NPR archives. The phrase “before I let you go” produced 820 results; 90 were heard in just the past year.

Broken down by show, All Things Considered is far ahead: 284 results. Morning Edition had only promised freedom 107 times.

It’s nice to let a guest and listeners know a conversation is coming to a close. After all, we may already have said that this person “joins us on the line” (1,977 results) or is “joining us on the line” (332). We’re rhetorically untying those lines.

(Related questions: Is it time to dial back the “on the line” references? How many people still say that? Do “the kids” know what line we’re talking about?)

Maybe we should mix in more last questions that start with “finally.”

Or “one last thing.”

Or, “just one more thing.” It always worked for Columbo.

*YES, THAT’S A REFERENCE FROM AN OLD GUY ABOUT AN OLD TV SHOW. CLICK HERE IF YOU’RE NOT FAMILIAR WITH THE CHARACTER.

September 5, 2018

Comments are closed.