Has anyone else noticed the growing trend of the verbal pause "I mean..."? I first became aware of its use in the speech patterns of my community of friends about a year and a half ago. It seems to have replaced the use of "like" as an opening to a statement or as a pause to collect thoughts and organize a sentence. It's typically pronounced very quickly, but with a drawn out emphasis on the "e" sound. Like any verbal pause, it serves no purpose in communication and adds no meaning to a sentence, yet I'm hearing this phrase pop up everywhere.
It's interesting to think about trends in verbal communication... how does such a trend get started? Why "I mean" ? Did someone start doing it one day and it just caught on?
I know I personally adapt my speech patterns and vocabulary based on the people I hang out with and how they speak. There are certain people who hear me say "oh snap!" and others will hear "hey-oooo!" as a response to the same situation. I'm certain that my use of "I mean..." developed from others using the phrase. It tends to bother me when I hear myself use it, but only because I favor being brief and concise when I speak. Now and then I'll notice a person use it several times in a short conversation and it gets on my nerves =)
For the next few days, set a mental flag for use of the phrase "I mean..." and see how many times you hear it used in conversation.