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like...omg

mingster

TRIBE Member
Like wow! That L-word is taking over teen lingo


LOUISE BROWN
EDUCATION REPORTER

It's the new, like, grammar — like it or not.

Canadian teens are sprinkling their speech with the word "like" at a soaring rate, new research shows — with some 16-year-olds using it even more often than the word "and."

More than 20 years after the first Valley Girl, (popularized in a 1982 Frank Zappa song) swapped "like" for "said" — I'm like, `Gag me with a spoon' and she's like, `Oh my God!' — the four-letter word has worked its way into teen lingo at unprecedented speed.

In Toronto, the "like" fad seems to peak at age 16, when one in every 20 words now spoken is "like," according to a recent study.

The study was done by University of Toronto linguist Sali Tagliamonte, who will run a three-hour workshop today for high school students on teen slang.

"Parents and teachers get on kids' cases for talking in a way they think sounds stupid — but `like' isn't really a heinous crime against English," said Tagliamonte, one of dozens of U of T professors speaking at a conference run by the Toronto Catholic District School Board for 600 students labelled `gifted.'

"Language changes. We don't talk like Shakespeare any more, and it's usually young people who push the language forward."

In the past seven years, Tagliamonte has tracked a four-fold jump in the use of "like" in setting up quotations (He's, like, `Go ahead.')

In a recent study of 1,240 quotations by Toronto teens, 60 per cent used the word "like" to indicate a quote, up from 13 per cent in a similar study Tagliamonte conducted in 1995 in Ottawa.

"It's unprecedented to find a feature of language increasing in frequency this rapidly," she said yesterday.

"It used to take millennia for language to change, but timelines have telescoped with the advent of mass media."

Still, linguists can't agree on why the word has become so popular.

Some think people unwittingly use the word "like" as a stall tactic when they're not confident about what they're saying, she said.

"What would that say about Canadians if that were true? That we're less confident about everything? That would be scary," scoffs Tagliamonte.

Nor does she think it indicates a lack of specifics.

"I've heard people use it in very specific references, as in, `The heat was, like, 467 degrees.'"

And she insists it is not a sign of a poor vocabulary.

"Some of my brightest students use `like' all the time, and they have very strong vocabularies.

"So there is definitely something going on in the underlying grammar. But the jury's still out as to what that is."

While the "l" word as a verb and adjective dates back to the 1200s, its new use as a "quotative" (I'm, like, `wow') was first spotted by linguist Ronald Butters of Duke University in 1982.


like, i was saying "like", like...so long ago.
 
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Lil'Timmy

TRIBE Promoter
It could be, like, worse you know. At least the kiddies aren't, like, addin "nizzle" on the end of it.

Likenizzle.
 
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squirrely

TRIBE Member
i think it's totally acceptable when used to signify a quotation. i also use it regularly to suggest approximation or exaggeration.

for example: there was like, 30 feet of snow up in collingwood.


using it as a stall tactic, however, when you aren't quite sure of what you're about to say next, tends to broadcast immaturity or a lack of confidence.
 
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PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
I know like 20 people, like mostly girls, who used to like using like, but now that they are older, they no longer use it.

The author of this needs to be timelined, since it's like really old.
 

mingster

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by PosTMOd

The author of this needs to be timelined, since it's like really old.

that's what i was, like, thinking when i read the article this morning. i think the study is recent, but like has been around for years and years! it was like, crazy huge when i was a teen.
 

ila

TRIBE Member
oh man...I took Sali Tagliamonte's second year linguistics course.

you have to hear her impression of a teenage girl. it's brutally bad.

she also does a horrible cockney accent.

haha...I just can't get excited over linguistics.
 

squirrely

TRIBE Member
when it's used as filler i can see how it's "bad" but it can also serve to streamline sentences, and/or make them more casual.

like, who uses words like "approximately" in everyday conversation? <--or in the case of this sentence, the "like" is standing in for "for example."
 

ila

TRIBE Member
she also has this project with the use of "so" as an intensifier going on.

where she traced the increased use of "so" instead of other intensifiers like, "really" or "very" to the way the characters speak on Friends.

"it's sooooo cold out"...blah blah blah
 
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Lysistrata

Well-Known TRIBEr
To be fair, the article does reference Zappa and the 20 year mark, so the author of the article, if not the professor in question, does acknowledge hte timeline.
 

JESuX

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by squirrely
i also use it regularly to suggest approximation or exaggeration.

for example: there was like, 30 feet of snow up in collingwood.


exactly. I use it when I don't have an exact number or quantitative amount. Instead of someone quoting YOU at a later point, you can say that you were just using the word "like" as an indication that you didn't know the exact amount.

still, that article was really interesting.

do you think maybe girls use it to "soften" themselves? so that they don't come accross as arrogant?
 
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Dr Funk MD

TRIBE Promoter
Originally posted by JESuX
exactly. I use it when I don't have an exact number or quantitative amount. Instead of someone quoting YOU at a later point, you can say that you were just using the word "like" as an indication that you didn't know the exact amount.

still, that article was really interesting.

do you think maybe girls use it to "soften" themselves? so that they don't come accross as arrogant?

I think if a girl can say 'approximately' with out stubbling over it, that's pretty sexy, not arrogant.
 

gubydal

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Dr Funk MD
I think if a girl can say 'approximately' with out stubbling over it, that's pretty sexy, not arrogant.

or even "about" if "approximately" seems too formal...
I'm sure I say "like" from time to time... as with anything else, in moderation it's perfectly ok but if you're using it five times in one sentence you're an addict! ;)

S
 

squirrely

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by JESuX

do you think maybe girls use it to "soften" themselves? so that they don't come accross as arrogant?

i don't think "arrogant" is the correct word, but i know what you mean. a lot of girls feel the need to downplay their intelligence and their desire to SPEAK and to be HEARD.
 

bitchass

TRIBE Member
'like' gets replaced by 'uhh' as people get older - either way, its the mark of someone who talks too much and just wants to hear their own voice.
 
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