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People are all, like, 'What's going on?"

By maxwell edison ·
People are all, like, "What's going on?"

People are all, like, making up their own dialect.

People are all, like, "But not me."

And the she was, like, not doing it right.

And then he was, like, butchering the language.

But he was, like, "well that's how we talk."





And now I'm, like, "Now I feel old because, like, I don't talk that way."

And now I'm, like, "What's happening to our language?"

And I'm, like, "What's going on here?"

And I'm, like, "Personally, I don't like it."

And I'm, like, wondering what other people think.

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This drives me crazy.

by mlandis In reply to People are all, like, 'Wh ...

When I was a teen, there were a few words or phrases that were overused. "Man," "like wow" and "cool" immediately come to mind.

When I was visiting relatives in England and Ireland last summer, I was spared the language of the apparently inarticulate American adolescent for a few weeks. I didn't miss it.

The truth is, however, that language is not static and is in constant flux. While it would seem "like" is incorrectly used in your examples above I suggest to you we are witnessing a change in American English. I am not saying I agree with it or enjoy hearing it.

The word "like" is most often heard or seen in similes, where the speaker or author is creating a comparative visualization. People using "like" in the fashion you describe are either showing comparisons or showing equivalents.

"People are all, like, "What's going on?""

I would convey the sense of this sentence by saying, "People are wondering what is going on."

If it had to be analyzed, it would be comparable to drawing thought balloons in a comic strip. It is a vocal visualization. It is an odd idea, I'll admit. Your best bet would be to ask a linguistics expert to explain it better.

We may be, like, stuck with it.



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We did it too

by Oz_Media In reply to This drives me crazy.

in all fairness, I remember when "EX!" was a great expression meaning excellent.

Okay I never did the 'groovy' thing but adopted it later in life as I like to use expressions like that now just to throw people off.

RAD! was radical, and EVERYTHING was RAD!.

Harsh! The oh too common expression for anything.

But 'cool' still lurks in my vocabulary, when I don't really have a comment to offer or don't wish to continue a conversation.

Yuppers, we get some pretty whacky stuff going but I don't think it compares to the word 'LIKE' being used to replace a comma or sentence pause, or GOES to explain what someone said.

Those just slay me!

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One word fits all

by maxwell edison In reply to This drives me crazy.

Whether it's

I said.....

I thought.....

I wondered.....

I questioned.....

I saw.....

I did.....

Who needs all these choices?


I'm like.....

I'm like, who needs all these choices?

(Or, he Oz mentioned.)

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by apotheon In reply to This drives me crazy.

It's a truncation of a more complex statement.

"I was, like, 'This totally sucks!'"
That pretty much translates thusly:
"I was thinking something like 'This totally sucks!'"

The words "thinking something" have been removed from the slang version. The term "thinking something" is assumed to be understood. That, I think, is pretty much how it started. Like most slang, though, it has come to be used in a manner not exactly consistent with the proper application of its original purpose.

hope that helps

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Truncation is a constant in living language.

by mlandis In reply to explanation

As a matter of fact it is probably the only constant in language!

I am sure you see it when you are doing translations and interpretations, Chad. The precision of some older and ancient languages is amazingly complex, because there were not many other methods or enough commonly shared experiences to effect a different style of concise communication.

What makes me think the "like" phenomenon is not just truncation, but rather a picture being described with thought balloons are the accompanying gestures with the hands and other body language. A mental picture is being seen and getting briefly described.

If you were to ask the same group of kids to describe something they had seen, the sentence structure would be practically the same, using "like" in a similar fashion.

Language is affected by its users' surroundings. Our environment exposes us to more visual and aural experiences than any generation before us. I submit to you, Chad, because you are also a linguist, that this usage of "like" is more than a truncation. It is assuming that there are enough shared media/visual experiences among the speakers to effect the communication. The 'truncation' is simply bringing in the word "like" to evoke the mutually understood picture which is worth a thousand words.

What do you think? Can you see it?

Should we start another thread? This topic - languages/linguistics - is a pet hobby of mine.


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I see your point

by Oz_Media In reply to Truncation is a constant ...

and Apotheon had a clear and logical explanation but I think you are closer in the case of street talk.

It is habitual, just like all kids when they have new pet words. People go through stages where they will use one word all the time, I hear it even in adults when training sales staff. You don't notice you're doing it but it just comes out. I see the same here, people have pet buzz words they use commonly, me included of course. On etrick I learned when working in a call center was I would write out a list of synonyms related to the word the agent kept using and tape it by their phone. Then they could mix up the BUZZ words they used for greater effectiveness.

IMO in the case of teens, they get a comfortable with a word, it's on the tip of their tongue. Teens speak FAST, and I mean fast when compared to when we get older, we slow down and don't think/speak as fast as we used to, we then develop speech patterns that include noticable thoughtful pauses and seem to choose words more wisely (did I just say that? I must be young).

So as teens, instead of pausing as they are thinking, they use little fill in words LIKE;M'KAY, RIGHT, or the world famous UUUUM !


Anyhow that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

With respect to the original post, I think Max was maybe having some fun because he is flabbergasted at what they will print in quotes in the news now.

He later pointed out this is where his post stemmed from,

Like I say, at least it isn't being censored :)

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linguistic evolution

by apotheon In reply to Truncation is a constant ...

My explanation was meant more as a description of the likely etymological origins of this annoying Valley-Girl-ism. (Note: This use of "like" probably began in "the Valley" in California in the '80s.) It has since taken on a "richer" body of colloquial meaning, as you describe, Maureen.

Generally, that's how such awful abuses of language evolve: they begin as a simple truncation or mistake, become habitual, spread, and end up getting additional meaning read into them later by those who aren't familiar with the initial etymological origins of the (mis)usage.

Heh. I'm flattered by your characterization of me as a linguist. I'm an armchair linguist at best: I'm more of a grammar fascisto than an actual linguist, I'd say. I just prefer a lot more precision and correctness in the use of language than most people (who generally don't really give a damn about linguistic precision and correctness at all), and care enough about it to be sure I know why one expression is more precise and correct than another. I'm also a (very) little bit of a logician, which lends itself to enhancing the effectiveness of just about every other skill when properly applied.

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It's nice to see actually

by Oz_Media In reply to People are all, like, 'Wh ...

That people LIKE things so much, it indicates a happy society.

I heard a girl talking on her phone with friends (shw as maybe 19'ish, UVIC girl) on the ferry a few days back and I had to strain not to 'like' bust out laughing!

The other one that gets me is when people are referring to a converstaion.

Well I asked him why, and he goes, just because.
So I go, but that's not really an answer.
But then he goes, I don't have to tell you anything.
So I go, ....

Where are all these people 'going'? What am I missing? :) Is life passing me by while I'm just getting older?

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by house In reply to People are all, like, 'Wh ...

...and role play to recreate some sort of scene or mood in the conversation. The term "like", in that context, is also a weak language skill used to accent a phrase that would otherwise be inaudible or misplaced in a statement. Using it to compliment a generalization or a word used for "lack of a better term", is quickly destroying the vocabulary skills of our youth.

This trend, unfortunately, is cropping up in all forms of communication, and is no longer reserved solely for speech. Damn them. It's, like, hard to read or somethin'.

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Oh, to be young again!

by AV . In reply to People are all, like, 'Wh ...

Language is an art that is learned over time. Like, thats how young people communicate today. Its just a stage that they are going through that helps them fit in with their peers. To them, its cool and hip. They're part of the group. To others not in their peer group, its annoying.

Maybe one day they will learn to replace like with a word that really says something. Maybe they'll even pick up some good ones from reading our posts! Like that would be far out, man. Till then, stay cool.

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