"Like" abuse redivivus

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat Apr 12 17:37:14 UTC 2008

Now? I don't remember our doing without "you now" in my lifetime, but
I very clearly remember the onset of focus and quotative "like."


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       JAMES H COPELAND <jamescopeland20 at MSN.COM>
>Subject:      Re: "Like" abuse redivivus
>What is as bad now, if not worse, than "like" was then, is the maddening =
>use of "you know".  It has driven me up more walls than I can count!
>Jim Copeland
>   ----- Original Message -----=20
>   From: Jonathan Lighter<mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>=20
>   Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 8:33 AM
>   Subject: "Like" abuse redivivus
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header =
>   Sender:       American Dialect Society =
>   Poster:       Jonathan Lighter =
><wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM<mailto:wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>>
>   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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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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