Friday, December 19, 2008

This is like, so annoying, and stuff

I don't know how it began. I don't know when people began doing it (circa Beavis and Butthead?) and exactly when I began to notice it. Now I hear it every time it is spoken, even when I do it myself. And I hate that I do it.

Sometimes I tell people I chose not to be an English major because I didn't want to be one of those people who always corrected people on their use of language. [That and because I'm my own worst editor.] Language is, after all, ever-changing and fluid. The children texting today are inevitably going to reshape the English language; this is to be expected. However, this is not reason enough to abuse language and speak in a manner that clearly demonstrates stupidity. "These ones," is a good example. Just say, "These." While criticizing someone to this end might incur something akin to wrath, this does not relieve them of wrong-doing because everyone does it. Nor is it about being anal. We have grammar rules so that we are able to know what is being talked about in a conversation. Moreover, if I were an employer, I would not hire someone who talked in such a manner. It is not correct and hence, not professional.

In the past month or so, I began to notice that people use the word "Like" in a manner completely unbefitting its meaning. I believe it acceptable to use the word when trying to approximate. For example, "She used the word 'like' like, 25 or 26 times in the course of our conversation," if you can't recall exactly how often she actually said it. And, of course it is always okay to use the word "like" when making an analogy. Here is when it is not okay: [Actual one-side of a phone conversation I overheard.] "Yeah, his birthday is like, on Saturday. He's cool. He's like, shy and stuff. But he's like, really funny." Well, IS his birthday Saturday or not? IS he shy or not? IS he really funny? Does she know this person at all?

Using "like" in this manner isn't even appropriate as an interjection in the same manner that "Um" is often used. "Um," is useful insofar that it allows a listener to digest what has just been said while preparing for what is about to be said. No one needs time to digest, "He's like, shy and stuff," before preparing to hear, "But he's like, really funny." I suppose talking in this manner wouldn't be so annoying if only a few people did it. But everyone does it! Even I do it, though I am getting better at catching it and sometimes stopping myself. If you take a few minutes to really listen to other people or yourself, you'll be amazed. It is insane how often you will hear "like" abused in the course of a five minute conversation.

"And stuff," is typically used in conjunction with "like." Wtf does "and stuff" mean? "He's like, shy and stuff"? What stuff? Shy and what, homicidal??" And stuff" doesn't tell me anything. I have no recourse but to ask, when "and stuff" is uttered, "What stuff?" Try it. It's LIKE a deer in the headlights.

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