"Tell It Like It Is"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Feb 19 01:24:16 UTC 2008

My impression after decades of reading metric tons of stuff is that few copy-editors at any time in the past hundred and twenty-five years  - at least - would alter a "Tell it like it is" within dialogue.  The only exception I can think of might have been in cases where an educated, influential public figure was being quoted. That sort of person's grammar might get tidied up.

  Gut well as brain tells me that "tell it like it is" _should_ have been frequent in general speech all that time. But the cites say otherwise.

  Reminds me of the "yeah" enigma discussed here some time ago.


"Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Douglas G. Wilson"
Subject: Re: "Tell It Like It Is"

"Like" has been an alternative for "as" in various contexts for a
long time, I think.

This is one pattern, I guess:

"Like you said, ..." = "As you said, ..."

"Leave it like it is" = "Leave it as it is"

"Tell it like it is" = "Tell it as it is"

"It tastes good, like it should" = "It tastes good, as it should"


Offhand I suppose that these forms with "like" (and the ones with
"as") have been used routinely in mainstream speech for well over 100
years. But the versions with "like" will be scarce in the published
record (until recently) because they are/were considered 'informal'
or 'incorrect'. This is just my casual notion; perhaps some of the
savants can correct me.

Plenty of old instances of "Tell it as it is" with seems-to-me
appropriate meaning.

-- Doug Wilson

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.516 / Virus Database: 269.20.7/1285 - Release Date: 2/18/2008 5:50 AM

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

Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile.  Try it now.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list