The local authorities of three counties of in the north of the UK are set to ban the conversational opener ‘How are you?’ after disturbing new evidence has come to light regarding the potentially highly damaging effects of its ambiguity.
Wildonshire, Detshire and Shireshire, all in the north of England, were pilot counties for research into effects of the apparently harmless, indeed neutral-
Prof to the J, as she insisted on being called, merrily chirped on, finally concluding with the observation that the ambiguities of the phrase have been calculated to be conversationally demotivating to the extent that there is a greater than pure chance probability that interlocutors, on leaving any conversation that began thus, are significantly less economically productive for a period of time up to 24 hours after the initial utterance of the ‘How are you?’ It is for this reason that the UK counties are trialling a ban on the use of the phrase. Punishments include an on-the-
The research follows hot on the heels of recent findings focussing on the interpretation of ‘I’m fine’, which is the standard reply to ‘How are you?’ The study concluded that 78% of such utterances were effectively the interlocutors lying through their teeth in some desperate attempt to present a coherent, positive social face, when in fact they were far from ‘fine’, being, as we all are, in a state of ongoing terror and befuddlement, arising from the confusion, ambiguities and insecurities that are inherent in the fact of existence.