"Like" abuse redivivus

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Apr 12 17:21:23 UTC 2008

One day, pained by the frequency of "like" in the speech of a young
college girl I have been kind of a substitute father for since her
early teens, I spoke one sentence to her and her mother incorporating
several "like"s.  She looked surprised, and said "That's not the way
Joel usually talks!"


At 4/12/2008 11:13 AM, George Thompson wrote:
>A former colleague in the reference room, a purist and an arrant
>pain in the ass -- I admired him for it, of course -- if a student
>said "I want , like, a dictionary of literary criticism", would
>reply, "do you want a book that's like a dictionary, or do you want
>a dictionary?"
>For my part, at least once I was posed a question by a fashionably
>inarticulate student that contained the highest possible ratio of
>"like" to substance words.  I completely lost track of the sense of
>the question, and had to ask him to say it again, without the "likes".
>I too want to be a pain in the ass whenever possible, but this was a
>case of necessity.
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
>Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>Date: Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:34 am
>Subject: "Like" abuse redivivus
> > Actually, it's never been gone, but thirty years ago "like" abuse was
> > a big deal among the "Death of English" crowd. Recent developments in
> > global warming and so forth have rather shunted it from notice.
> >
> >   On campus yesterday I heard a young university woman explaining
> > excitedly, "So, like, it was like I was like that's _impossible_!
> > And, like, she was like 'No! It isn't!' Like, then I was like it still
> > sounds kind of crazy like."
> >
> >   Admittedly this is not an exact transcription, but I promise you it
> > comes very close.  She certainly used "like" more densely (no pun
> > intended) than any other speaker I've ever heard.
> >
> >   I may have mentioned previously that the first time I became aware
> > of "to be like," meaning "to think or say," was as late as 1984,
> > though it has since been antedated by some few years.
> >
> >   JL
> >
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