Stop Abusing "Right?."


People (myself included) sometimes explain things using a weird semi-interrogative version of the word “right?/.”. It has the upward inflection of a question, but the speaker continues on to the next sentence without leaving space for an answer. Here is a made-up example that should not be taken as historical fact:

So during the Revolutionary War, the Native Americans all sided with the British, since they saw the seceding Americans as enemies, right?. [sic] And so the question is…

This construction aggravates me. The inflection on “right” suggests that there could be disagreement over the topic, but the speaker’s quick progress to the next sentence denies the opportunity to respond. It opens the door to conversation and then slams it shut. Moreover, the speaker’s gung-ho continuation to the next sentence implies the listener’s agreement, even though they are allowed no time to think the question over. In the example above, the listener is basically coerced into accepting a historic interpretation as a precondition to the second sentence’s question. I call shenanigans. Perhaps we should only ask questions if we are prepared to listen to peoples’ responses.