Tuesday, 19 May 2009

What's there not to "like"?

Get a load of this guys!

I recently listened to a story on the linguistic properties of the word "like". It seems that a good few years ago teenagers have kidnapped it and abused it until there was nothing left of the old "like". The new "like" was depraved and ignored the duty to describe similarity or order of affection. Instead it became a tool for pause to the over-firing teenage brains. But it doesn't end there! The new "like" also brings a meaning to the sentence it's used in, the monster! It affects the context and brings an overall element of uncertainty. It underlines the fact that something is guaranteed maybe in 99.5% but never 100%. So there is always a chance it won't pull through.
For example you could say: "the lecture notes will be available on our webpage on, like, Monday". That is to say you've arranged for them to be put up and there is no obvious reason it shouldn't happen but still you are aware that the server might crash or the IT guy might show up for work without his pants... again.
Brain disease or a manifestation of a maturing system? I'll let you decide. One thing's for sure: the new "like" reflects the uncertain and self-doubting condition of its creators. It is contagious but amusing to watch. To be fair, everything is funny about teenagers as soon as you're not one.
Anyhow, now that it's recognised as a linguistic phenomenon and maybe even a right of passage into the eloquent domain of the twenty-somethings (hahaha...ha!), I'm happy I got to be a part of it.

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