Should I really guess?by Angie

20 Nov 2007
8:11 am

Call me a linguistic nut, but I am confused by the phrase, “guess what…”. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve used it quite a bit myself; and perhaps the very fact that Americans in general understand the convention validates its use. However, it does tend to create a conundrum for the person being asked: should I really guess (and risk getting it right and stealing their thunder!), or just say, “I have no idea,”? Some people respond to this plight by jokingly guessing outrageous things, but – by personal experience – I have found this to be less effective, since it sometimes irritates the person who has wonderful news to tell.

I’d like to know what you think. Do you use the phrase? Why do we say it? What’s the craziest guess you’ve ever offered or received? Do we really intend for someone to guess at all?