More audience-guilting, this time from an NPR host.

Without making too much of it, I thought this was interesting.  NPR host Sam Sanders received a letter from listener saying he (Sanders) is distracting in the amount that he “grunts and murmurs (‘Uh!’, ‘Mmm…’, ‘Ahhh…’) when a guest is speaking.”  Perhaps because the letter writer went a bit far in likening it to the behavior of somebody who’s constipated, Sanders felt it necessary to respond and then to publish his response for public approval.

Not surprisingly, the response focuses on how “cooperative overlapping” is “a linguistic tradition very prominent in Black culture and the Black church.”  This is reasonable to point out, of course, and the listener must be pretty disconnected from popular culture not to have picked up on this style of communication before, but still…

The cultural context does not change the fact that this listener (and perhaps many others) are used to a different approach and find Sanders’ makes conversations difficult to follow.  Holding such folks up for ridicule and shaming doesn’t feel like the appropriate reaction.

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