Stop in the name of the language law. You are under grammatical arrest. You have the right to remain silent. You really should observe that right.
I know it’s nothing new. People have been banging on about the overuse of ‘like’ for years now.
It pops up in a variety of incarnations:
- As a filler: That makes me like die of embarrassment
- As a quote: I was like ‘I just died of embarrassment’
- For emphasis: I, like, just died of embarrassment
And as is the case with many language bugbears, the poor old Cali valley girls cop the blame for this one too. Mind you, use has been traced back as far as a cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker back in 1928 where two people are discussing a workplace:
‘What’s he got—an awfice?’
‘No, he’s got like a loft.’
Blame game aside, I’ve only recently discovered just how prevalent it has become in everyday language.
In fact, while complaining to an editor colleague about the demise of the English language, I caught myself inserting an extraneous ‘like’ mid-sentence. Notice how merely referencing my editor colleague causes me to whip out an impressive ‘extraneous’? So you can imagine my horror when ‘like’ spewed out of my mouth with little regard for basic common decency.
It was then and there I made a silent (and somewhat violent) pledge to eradicate it from my vocab (my editor pal is fine with ‘vocab’ FYI).
And in constantly checking myself before wrecking myself, I have noticed the ‘L’ word appearing everywhere. Workplace conversations, coffee shop conversations, public toilet conversations. By radio presenters, tv presenters and YouTube presenters (oh my!). I have even seen it used inappropriately in the written form.
Then I heard it. Driving around listening to the radio, ‘old mate’ suddenly appears within a commercial break.
An ad for an online shoe shop. Female one: complains about how expensive designer shoes are. Female two: sells the benefits of an online bidding site for cheap shoes. Cheap shoes and a massive range.
Offensive? You know what? Not really. As it was reflective of pretty much every conversation these days, it actually supported the conversational style of the voice over.
Don’t tell my editor colleague.