‘Like you know’ — Christmas 2017
Dec 27, 2017Posted by on
Vagueness is on the march and it isn’t just formal education that has brought this about, firstly television, then the Internet, and now mobile phone texting, all impact on both the written and the spoken word. In a City Journal article with the sub title The decline and fall of American English and stuff, the author recounts how a woman appearing on a television programme described a baby squirrel that she had found in her yard.
“And he was like, you know, ‘Helloooo, what Helloooolooking at?’ and stuff, and I’m like, you know, ‘Can I, like, pick you up?,’ and he goes, like, ‘Brrrp brrrp brrrpBrrrpbrrrpbrrrpike, you know, ‘Whoa, that is so wow!’ ” .
Apparently she rambled on, speaking in self-quotations, sound effects and other vocabulary substitutes, punctuating her sentences with facial tics and lateral eye shifts. He adds that by 1987, it was revealed that “like” was no longer a mere slang usage, it had mutated from a hip preposition.
Vagueness was not a fad or just another generational raid on proper locution, it was a coup. Linguistic rabble had stormed the grammar palace. The principles of effective speech had gone up in flames. And with it, presumably, the written word.