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From the Lefthand Corner: Does 'sounds good,' sound good to you?

How many times lately have you ended a conversation with, “Sounds good,”? How many more times has someone talking with you ended their part of the conversation with, "Sounds good,”?

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No politics this week. This column doesn’t really start anywhere or go anywhere. It’s just an observation or commentary on a speaking quirk or habit that didn’t seem to exist until recent years.

How many times lately have you ended a conversation with, “Sounds good,”? How many more times has someone talking with you ended their part of the conversation with, "Sounds good,”?

The phrase is frequently used in wrapping up a friendly conversation. As frequently, if the conversation lasts a few minutes and covers several matters, there will be a number of, “sounds good," in there.

For some, it seems to wrap up every paragraph or stand alone in response to another’s comment.

Where did it come from? How long has it been a part of our common usage? How long will it last?

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Maybe like another unrelated term, overuse will cause it to fade away.

I remember when, in labor negotiations, employer representatives termed all costly union proposals as "unsustainable," even if they’d been in the contract for a dozen years.

Similarly, most conservative politicians labeled and publicly proclaimed that the other side’s finance proposals were "unsustainable."

I don’t have any idea how long “sounds good” has been around. We first really noticed it last year when making arrangements with a friendly relative to purchase materials for a large storage shed, and then in conversations with the contractors and their employees involved in its construction.

I don’t really know if “sounds good” is still picking up steam or fading away, but it seems to be increasing still around here, or at least remains a steady factor in our conversational exchanges.

It certainly isn’t confined to just Echoland. During recent months we’ve heard it in telephone conversations with social and business folks from the Pacific Coast to the Eastern Seaboard and north to our Canadian border.

This last month I noted that it is as prevalent in Wisconsin and North Dakota as it is here.

“Sounds good” is often used as a quick and complete sentence. Most speakers usually assume that an introductory “It” or “That” is not needed. It is usually stated matter-of-factly, without embellishment, occasionally with some enthusiasm.

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If the speaker is really excited or emphatic about the subject at hand, it sometimes triggers a switch to, "Sounds great."

“Sounds good” is generally used to indicate all or partial agreement to another person’s suggestions. Examples are: When shall we meet? What time do we leave? Who's driving? Which restaurant do you prefer? When will you deliver? What are we having for dinner? Let’s do it this way?

Or a server in a restaurant responding to an order. Or a merchant setting a price or customer making an offer.

And the list goes on and on and on.

In simpler times, when we encountered each other it was, "Hello," and when we ended the conversation and walked away it was, "Goodbye," often embellished with, "Hope to see you again soon."

For some of us it was, "Talk to you later."

“Hello” became “Hi” as we became less formal. We did a lot of, “Good morning” and “Good evening” or “Good night.” I never figured out what one should say around noon.

“Holy cow” was in vogue for quite awhile. More recently, "Cool" was the common catchword or expression of approval, particularly among the younger set.

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So, how long will, “Sounds good," resound among us? Will it stay until we’re all addicted; or will it fade away as someone comes up with something else?

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Don Bye, columnist

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