Frequently Asked Questions


Asking questions is perhaps the most useful development in language yet. One might argue that the ability to answer question—obviously a more recent development since there must be a question to answer, but the question is one of our most valuable assets as speakers of language. There are many questions that we ask and receive. Below are a numerous few of these questions.

What does Digg It mean?
There is a website called www.digg.com. This page allows readers to submit good web content. The idea is to get a web page will quality links to stuff around the internet. Click on the "Digg It" button of each article that you like and the count will go up! The more who digg it, the more traffic we get!

How are you?
Probably the most asked question in the U.S.A. amongst speakers of English, yet perhaps the least answered question amongst the same people. It is a staggering question at its root. How are you? Basically, given the entire scope of life occurring right now and the vast complexity of the individual psyche, in what state are you as a person? Heavy stuff… The irony is that we rarely take the time to form a thoughtful answer. Most of the time we slough off an “I’m good” and move right along (often asking the other how she is and waiting for her to return the same canned answer). The whole exchange is just another great social contrivance peculiar to our great society.

Hello?
One of the most used questions. Think of the number of phone calls in the U.S.A., almost every phone conversation in begins with Hello? Here is the strange part: hello is a greeting and spoken as a common pleasantry from person to person. But in our great language—English for those who have not figured that out yet—we raise the pitch of our voices to indicate a question. Really? Yes. Are you sure? Yes. In this case, we say hello with a rising pitch and it becomes a question that asks “who is this calling me?” but in a socially polite manner. If you do not think so, just answer the phone “who is this?” and see what kind of response you receive. Happy Answering!

Why?
With only one syllable, this may be the most useful and important question in the English language. May people know what something is or how to do something. We can usually figure out who did something and when it happened—or will happen. But why is different. Why separates the students from the masters, the lost from the found, and the fools from the wise.


What time is it?
There really isn’t any magic here. The question is simple and functional. There was a time in human history when very few people had a way to measure time beyond the position of the sun. With wristwatches and cell phones so prevalent in modern society, however, it is easy to find a person willing to give you the current time.

Can I ask you a question?
The internal irony of this question is absolutely beautiful. Of course we all know that his question is really something we use to preempt our desire to pry into someone’s affairs. “Can I ask you a question?” is like a brief backstage pass. What you are really saying is, “I want to know something about you, but I am not confident that we have developed a relationship deep enough to weather any offense you might feel by my inquiry”. We know that we are steering the conversation into unsafe waters, so we ask a question for permission to ask a question.

Are there any useful questions on this FAQ page?
Yes, there are a couple of very useful questions on this page. For instance, if you did not know the time, what time is it? would become a very useful question. Also, if you need or want to know the reason for something, why? would become a very useful question. Contrarily, are there any useful questions on this FAQ page? has clearly turned out NOT to be a useful question.