Friday, October 13, 2006

"Like, whatever . . . "

Today as I was walking to work, there were a couple of young women behind me, chatting away. They were your typical, garden-variety twenty-somethings. We were keeping the same pace and I couldn't help but overhear their conversation. One of them was using the word, "like," so often that it really amazed me. The use of the word "like" as a discourse marker bugs the hell out of me, especially since these kids use it so very much:

"He said he was, like, going to the store to, like, get me, like, a wine cooler. And I was, like, whatever."

So I began keeping count how many times she used the word.

Two blocks later, . . . thirty-five . . . forty . . . forty-five . . .

Finally, I peeled away. I couldn't take it anymore. I was wanting to wheel around and smack her with my back-pack.

As far as I can tell, such rampant use of the word, "like" is limited mostly to caucasian American females in their teens and twenties. It got me to thinking along the lines of grammatical anthropology: "What is it about their little world that causes them to use so many pauses in their communication; to speak so damn hesitantly?

Are they not getting enough nourishment? Have their little brains atrophied so much that they cannot think fast enough to speak correctly? Does Leonardo diCaprio have anything to do with it?

I was envisioning myself as a college professor and announcing on the first day of class that the word, "like" would not be allowed in my classroom.

Every time one of these students would try to speak, I'd stop them every time they used that word and have them start over.

I think they'd all explode after a while.

I know I can be a pompous ass. But seriously, what has caused this?

Do any of you have any, like, ideas?


At 7:23 PM , Blogger Hanuman1960 said...

Like, I blame Paris Hilton...

At 9:49 PM , Blogger Antony Hanson said...

This is one of the finest rants I have read in awhile. Ohhhhh it touches such a never, because I loathe this particular usage (and abusage) of the Eglish launguage too. I so felt your pain in this post. I don't think I could have made it as long as you did in the counting before peeling away. I am truly impressed by your pain threshold.

But ideas as to why...Oy, I wish I did....

At 12:46 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually caught my 70-year-old father using "like" in that way. Scary.

At 6:45 AM , Blogger #Debi said...

Hi, I'm here via Antony's Attic. I am back in college for a second go 'round, and I can tell you that it isn't just the females that are, like, talking like that. There is a young man in my classes, a self-professed stoner, who, during a presentation in class, used the word "like" almost every other word. It was as if he were trying to speak in code. Even the 20-ish females in the room were irritated by his usage.

I think you've come closest to the mark with the brain-atrophy theory. Educators (and parents) have not challenged students to develop a vocabulary and the confidence to use it. I also think that the current societal air of "oh, now, don't offend anyone by actually stating what you believe" has made young people very hesitant to express themselves extemporaneously.

But this is your rant, not mine, so I will come down off my soapbox now... :)

At 11:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, could that BE any more annoying? Seriously.

At 12:22 PM , Blogger Kyle said...

People aren't required to communicate clearly. I think that's the problem.

At 12:34 PM , Blogger Lorraine said...

I totally, like, agree with everything that you, like, said, because it is like so totally annoying when people can't even, like, put together a coherent sentence. Like, geez, people, what's your problem?

P.S. I like you.


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