"Like" abuse redivivus/ to "be all"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 14 00:55:11 UTC 2008

Phrases of the type, "how big of a dog," as well as "this/that big of
a dog," are hardly new. It's common in every variety of BE that I've
ever heard, since I was a child in Texas.


On Apr 13, 2008 at 1:48 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at yahoo.com> wrote:

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>  Subject:      Re: "Like" abuse redivivus/ to "be all"
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>  "Warriors against _Like_" also tend not to notice that there's more than one syntactical phenomenon involved.  The development of "to be like" is added to the erstwhile beatnik-associated sentence-initial "like," the interruptive-pause "like," and the adjective-final "like."
>   These all have their own histories and arose at different times.  All, hiowever, are obviously still current.
>   More recently there is a "to be all" that is about the same as "to be like," though
>  it seems not to be as common. Ir didn't make it into HDAS I (1994).
>   1991 David Burke _Street Talk: How to Speak and Understand American Slang_ (Optima Books) (Vol. I) 9: And she's all, "Stop teasing me!"
>   2006 http://www.xanga.com/pam_iz_mah_ate : then i started to do it and she's all "STOP!!! you make me laugh!!" hahahaha oooops.
>   2007  www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA7UouzEggE : He doesn't call me for a week and then he's all 'What do you mean you're not free?'
>   JL
>  "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
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>  Poster: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
>  Subject: Re: "Like" abuse redivivus
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>  On Apr 12, 2008, at 9:14 PM, Neal Whitman wrote:
>  > Alex D'Arcy has done some really interesting work on 'like', both the
>  > discourse-marker variety and the 'be like' variety. Her dissertation
>  > (http://www.ling.canterbury.ac.nz/personal/darcy/web%20documents/DArcy%20LIKE%2005%20ab.htm
>  > )
>  > 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'.
>  just to remind our readers: D'Arcy had a nice piece on "like" in
>  AMERICAN SPEECH 82.4 (2007), a piece i recommended to ADS-L on
>  12/27/07 as an antidote to Safire's raving in his column of 12/23/07
>  that "like" "has been ripping through teenage lingo like a verbal
>  virus — challenging even _y'know_" and Safire's implicit claim that
>  "like" was just a meaningless noise that inarticulate teens sprinkle
>  randomly throughout their speech.
>  as jon lighter noted yesterday, "like" abuse (so-called) was a target
>  of "Death of English" critics decades ago. jon has the impression
>  that this tradition of ranting has been waning, but i see no evidence
>  that this is so; the War on "Like" continues with great passion. here
>  are two Language Log postings of mine about the WoL:
>  http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005115.html
>  http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005203.html
>  (i have plenty more WoL material on file, but these are the only two
>  items i've gotten around to posting about.)
>  two observations about the warriors against "like":
>  one: they are deeply committed to their beliefs about "like" and those
>  who use it, and so are virtually impervious to information about these
>  matters. scholars have been studying these things for 25 years, and
>  there's now a considerable literature about them. from the earliest
>  studies on, everyone finds that "like" serves a number of specific
>  functions for its users and that each kind of "like" has its own
>  syntax. and that "like" is by no means the property of the young and
>  the uneducated. or a very recent development.
>  but the word hasn't gotten out. not even to Safire, who presents
>  himself as an authority on language but (outrageously) continues to
>  retail his ignorant (i use the word literally) beliefs about "like".
>  not even Patricia O'Conner's sensible and informed discussion of
>  quotative "like" -- in a NYT "On Language" column last july (yes, she
>  was subbing for him) -- seems to have made any impression on him.
>  (that was 7/15/07, with quotes from Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain, Geoff
>  Pullum, and me; Language Log posting here:
>  http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004973.html )
>  two, the warriors against "like" show undisguised contempt for those
>  they believe to be its principal users: young people, especially young
>  women (i comment on this in my Language Log postings about the WoL).
>  there's a cluster of attitudes here, in which all of the following are
>  devalued to some degree: young people, women, spoken (rather than
>  written) language, cultural innovations (including linguistic variants
>  that are believed to be recently innovated), non-standard linguistic
>  variants. as i said in my National Grammar Day posting on Language
>  Log --
>  http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005414.html
>  non-standard linguistic variants are treated as "intrinsically
>  debased". spoken variants are treated as intrinsically vague, sloppy,
>  unclear, etc.; i have a posting in preparation on another old Safire
>  column in which he refers to "the natural sloppiness of the spoken
>  language" (this with reference to the "of" variant of exceptional
>  degree modification, as in "how big of a dog"). and so on. as for
>  young people, everybody knows that kids don't know shit and reject the
>  wisdom of their elders. as for women, everybody knows they're fluff-
>  headed and frivolous and can't think straight.
>  sigh.
>  arnold
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