"Like" abuse redivivus

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Sun Apr 13 04:14:39 UTC 2008

Alex D'Arcy has done some really interesting work on 'like', both the
discourse-marker variety and the 'be like' variety. Her dissertation
shows discourse-marker 'like' steadily expanding its range of syntactic
categories it can attach to, generation by generation. Check the rest of her
CV for other material on 'like'.

An interesting change in the syntax of both 'like' and 'be like' that I've
noticed in my own kids is that they can extract the material following it.
That is, they can say things such as, "I was like, just about to win, is
what I was like,' and "He was like, 'Why'd you do that?' That's what he was
like, Daddy." More on that here:

Neal Whitman
Email: nwhitman at ameritech.net
Blog: http://literalminded.wordpress.com
Webpage: http://literalmindedlinguistics.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jonathan Lighter" <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:33 AM
Subject: "Like" abuse redivivus

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <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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