• Culture and Entertainment

    So, Like, Why Do I Like, Use “Like” All the Time?

    When and why did we Americans, particularly American young women start using “like” as filler or whatever we are using it for?

    I mean like I can’t even discuss this point with my family without saying it like a million times, and I’m homeschooled, I was wondering, like, where or why did I, like, pick it up? I picked it up when I was still mostly around other homeschooled people, and none of our parents talk like that.

    I don’t use, “um” except for emphasis, I don’t believe. I know I use “like” instead of “said,” so like “he was like” because I’m not directly quoting and saying “he said something like” or “he said something to the effect of” is so tediously long. There has got to be something in the middle of valley girl and pretentious prick.

    I also use it instead of “for example.” Even when I don’t need to, see above “I mean like . . .”

    The strange thing is, I don’t write like this or at least to the extreme that I talk like this (this is proper usage, but oh, my stars, I’m annoying myself), except, obviously when I’m trying to imitate myself and make a point about this.

    It’s not the word itself, its the sheer number of times I can manage to say it in one thought.

    I literally (oh, goody, another over/misused word of mine) searched this. I found this article with the various usages of “like.”

     Why Do People Say Like So Much?

    Per this article there are about 3-4 ways to use “like” informally, not quite grammatically. And I use them all. I think lots of us do in addition to the proper usage, and that is how we end up with the “like” overload.

    Quotative “like.” This is the one I’d like a good switch for, but the article didn’t give one. I’m not going to simply use “said” when I can’t recall the words. And as the article points out, it covers more than speech, also reaction, now, I can switch that to “I felt like” or “I felt [emotion]” when referencing myself, but I can’t do that when talking about other people.

    Approximate adverb “like.” I think I probably do use “like” in speech perhaps more than “about.” And that is an easy, one word switch.

    “Like” as a discourse marker and “like” as a discourse particle. This is pure filler usage. This would require pausing, thinking, slowing down.

    I don’t think the “for example” usage of “like” falls into any of these usages. In any case, it’s pretty easy to say “for example” if needed or eliminate it if unnecessary.

    The last three just require slowing down and thinking. Quotative usage on the other hand . . . as I mentioned (oh, “as” instead of “like”!) is trickier. Using “like” generally can be very defensive. And if I just said “she said” followed by an inexact quote which then gets challenged . . .! I guess that is why “she said something to the effect of” sounds bad too, its long and very defensive.

    I looked up how to stop using “like” so much, but I didn’t get a satisfactory response to this usage. People, if it was merely switching to “said” it wouldn’t be that complicated, and we wouldn’t be asking.

    Oh, and lots of the articles I looked up featured a photo of Cher from Clueless. The why they talk in that movie is hilarious and feels exaggerated, but I’m not sure it is as much as it feels. I don’t think we are used to hearing in movies how we actually talk.

  • Culture and Entertainment

    I’ll Choose Pithy over Pedantic Every Time

    Look at three different ways

    1. Using fancy (high-falutin’) words to sound smart
    2. Using complex words to appear intelligent
    3. Using pretentious language to appear erudite

    I’ve heard or read lot of chatter about Americans using simpler words or having a smaller vocabulary or something vs. British or Europeans. This brings to mind a ludicrous example, a history book I read in college by a British author where the author was trying so hard sound um, erudite that instead of using commonly understood terminology like widespread or dominant hierarchy to reference the hierarchical class system, he used the term monolithic dys-something, I can’t even find it in the thesaurus to ring a bell. But when I looked it up, it was essentially classical class hierarchy. Really dude. And he used this over and over. Kind of feels like when you are writing a paper and have over used a word so you use the thesaurus to find something fancier.

    Anyway, this sort of point of view irritates me. Don’t misunderstand me, a good vocabulary is important. But if a person’s main concept of intelligence of vocabulary is the number of multi-syllabic words you can stuff if a sentence, perhaps intellectual appearance is more important to said person than accurate communication.

    The word must be appropriate. That is the key. A fancy word used to express a simple thing is not clear communication, it is an attempt to be snobby.

    Complex words/sentences structure SHOULD be used to express complex, nuanced thoughts. Simple, straight-forward language ought to be used to express the simple, straight-forward thoughts. Using long words to obscure meaning is abhorrent.

    • Oversimplified language=loss of shades of meaning, loss of depth
    • Over-complicated language= loss of meaning by obscuring and dishonesty, smoke and mirrors, false complexity, false depth

    BOTH are a loss of expressiveness. Choose pithy (oh, me, I wish I had that skill) over pedantic or simplistic.

    Next up, “like.”