The superfluous use of the word "like" in the popular vernacular

Thank you Darren! Not having any picture of you or information about you, I amused me for a while considering the two characters who took part in that brief dialogue. Where it might have taken place, and why. You understand that possibilities are endless and the chasm between your world and that of the girl’s, might be uncrossable, at least, for a decade or so. Are you very old or a teenager? And the girl/woman? Were you taking part in one of those 15-minute-find-true-romance dating events, or observing strangers in a shopping mall, with your hot chocolate and a panini, or seated next to her in a plane to NY. … If the information is supplied, sorry to miss it, I’ve got two minutes, only, right now. I enjoyed thinking about your attempt to communicate, and the response you got. Were you being kind, helpful, in offering your opinion? Or is it a sense of responsibility, concern for essential preservation of good English? Did you feel superior, and in a position of control, and wanted to correct someone who, in your opinion, needed your help? The girl/woman rebuffed you, she clearly did not appreciate your effort. Were you hurt? Sad? Annoyed? Angry? Because of that? How did you feel when she responded without a scrap of concern?

Yam’s a brummie then Pete

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Languages, all languages, survive by input and change, as much as by careful rigorous attempts at preservation? English around the world, in different cultures, has to accommodate not just use of vocabulary, but very different ways of thinking, of living. Any recording from a few decades ago, or less, will illustrate innovations, drifts in new ideas, new lives that are taking place all the while. I think of it as an exciting experience, I feel its very important, yes, to be wary of destructive influences, but to make sure, too, that no one is ever not heard.

I find “different to” only slightly less irritating than “like”, especially when TV folks should be better trained / informed, as to how to address the public.
The eldest son of friends of mine says “like” several times in virtually every sentence ; his parents are teachers, & well educated folk. He’s in his 30’s now, & seems to be desperately trying to appear cool (which is another favourite of his) , whilst appealing to his activist friends.
My usual response is to leave the room for fear of punching him in the face, such is the extent to which he annoys me.

I’m usually very tolerant.


“he seems”? You haven’t talked to him about it?

Cummon Jeanette. This isn’t language in a true sense. This girl in question works in our office as a junior. She is a lovely lady and very kind. I suggested to her that she used the word “like” fifteen times in the last 3 mins of conversation and she was genuinely shocked.

She wasn’t aware of it.

The use of “like” in this context isn’t language per see but more of a verbal tic IMO. It doesn’t add anything to the conversation.

But you do have quite a vivid imagination.

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He’s one of those people whose own view of things is the only view of things.
I have long since lost what little patience I had with him.

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The Blackbird Estate?

Both of us find the use of like and different to instead of different from extremely annoying.
We seem to find the bad use of English on the BBC more frequent, and this is not just regional accents.
Turning everything into verbs is now more prevalent.
We all used to use erm to signify we were thinking, which is not in a word in itself and does not signify a comparison.
What is wrong with the teaching of English nowadays?

I have noted a problem with this sort of discussion thou. It could be construed as elitism (which was not my intention at all). The Youtube link (above) with Miriam Margolyes screams elitism in her comments. Its a sort of verbal superiority claim. She might as well as said “Excuse me young man, actually you should speak properly”.

One of the aspects of our language is the regional differences and descriptors; “roundabouts” or “traffic islands”. That is precious.

Even Jacob Rees-Mogg with his Dickensian drone is something to savor. My current favourite is Jodie Comer. I can’t gt enough of that scally.

I have heard people from Nottingham refer to roundabouts as traffic islands.

Strictly speaking a traffic island is one of these used to split opposing lanes of traffic and often used as a pedestrian refuge:

I don’t think I need to add a photo of a roundabout!

You aren’t allowed to correct poor grammar any more because that is élitist and derogatory to regionalisms, just as nobody is lazy but has a hidden handicap etc.
So someone who says “they was sat at the table while I done the work” is not to be corrected because it is deemed dialectal rather than incorrect.
Of course in any good school (and in schools where parents pay fees), that sort of relativist inequality-perpetuating rubbish isn’t tolerated.
So it is doubly infuriating, because of the double-standard us and them leaving people in the shit aspect and also because it means people with a genuine problem eg dyslexia /dyspraxia /dyscalculia get lumped in with those who are bone idle and aggressively semi-literate so help is spread very thin and those who really need it don’t get it, or not enough of it.


A living language will evolve continually however irritating we find it. People saying of rather than have irritates me.
Also ect when it should be etc in comments.


Has anyone got a sedative?

Theresa, I wonder why those two irritants, in the entire history of the brit lexicon, are especially annoying - for me too!
Plus ‘ocassionally’ and ‘lol’.
Never so much as to cast out the users, like vermin, though. :blush:

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Vero, I understand, and fully support, passionate loathing of lousy teaching of “correct” grammatical English language, any languages.
I’m infuriated by ‘dumbing down’ now, as much as by any of the applied ‘superior’ control that believes in its own gods’ superiority, so far as to insult/abuse/ostracise and reject those people who have no use for,
ability or interest in ‘precisely correct’ dictionary/grammatical, speech in any language.
Is English still taught divided into ‘English Language’ and English Literature? One or two more categories seem to me to be necessary, if so, since neither of those appear to me to offer room for creative or personal use. Perhaps “Dialectic English’ is supposed to fill that gap?
And perhaps ‘English Literature’ includes a vastly wider selection, now, than at school, when I remember Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ was only grudgingly approved of as ‘literature’ at all, and not one of the ‘stream of consciousness’ writers ever got a mention.
Certainly, to trash classical, grammatical language …as any academic study of language, would be insanity, and probably the end of useful discourse in almost everything from medicine to politics to art and on into infinity. However, Bridging the gap is essential.
There are so many ‘Pied Pipers’ out there, ready to entrance the children, and unwary, by force of nothing more valuable than pop charisma.
Not one of the language learners, not even those that are, in fact lazy/aggressive, and that’s a heavy judgement to make about any juvenile, without caring assessment, should be treated without respect. Name calling, stone walling, casting out. That’s just barbarism.
Times appear to me to be changing. Sharply looking up, in communication.
I have no TV but find interesting www videos often enough. The growing interest in discussions that cross previously impossible chasms. Russell Brand with his oikey English together with a wide selection of today’s pop and serious thinkers, like Gabor Maté Thomas Picketty, Jordan Peterson etc etc since he was voted into the top five by the Telegraph in 2015.
No one could have visualised such vast pop appeal for those discussions, 2 decades ago. For those without voices, without connection, facing disgusted rejection, already labelled as failures 'oh dear how many exam passes?”. What do you want for them?
Gaol terms until they’ve all mastered approved accents and vocabulary that expresses thoughts and ideas of a particular ‘kind of person’, a particular morality?
One of my biggest and saddest disappointments, was to discover some of the finest of English classics, and their authors expressed and supported bigotry, class division, and racism. I just don’t want to absorb that kind of English, however sublime/poetic it may be.
One Pied Piper I like, with caution, is Stormzy London rapper, ‘Not a gangster’.
You won’t find a single grammatical sentence in any of his, what are they called? Raps? ,
His world and thoughts are clear enough.

Darren, The essential difference between Margolyes, and an abusive elitist is her very obvious lack of malice, abundance of good will. If the ‘young man’ had just laughed at her, as I think he did anyway, and told her, likewise with out malice, to soddoff, would she have called up the language police and had him removed, or in any way, clicked the “block” button?. I don’t think so.
Anyone who can offer up their own boobs for a grope, to make a point about respect, in the way that she claimed that she did, is just so unlikely to want to hurt anyone. Wish I had that much courage.
I do, always, like to attempt to communicate with haters/aggressors/ostracisers, but usually it works best to ask them the time, or directions to MacDonalds… never the offer of a grope.
I had never heard of the Killing Eve gal. She does have a good mix of accents, from Liverpool to Ca. that must get her hated/admired, simultaneously, all the while.

I want people leaving school to be able to express themselves with precision, language is a weapon and letting them into the world unarmed or armed with a primitive and ineffective cudgel is not doing them any favours.
GBS said an Englishman just needs to open his mouth to be despised by another, well I don’t want them to be despised, and while Waterloo may have been won on the playing fields of Eton I don’t expect Wellington was referring to the cannon-fodder.
Education should be meritocratic, a clever and/or hardworking child from whatever background in a state school should be on equal terms with the best of the élite schools - so the patronising oh it is dialect we shan’t correct him (because he is a serf so what does it matter) makes me incandescent with rage.


No but I have a mute button.

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Vero, thank you for your reply!
I understand incandescent rage!
Yes. Every single word that is directed at a presumed ‘inferior’, a judgement born of prejudice/ignorance.
With no worthwhile knowledge about, interest in, or care for the ‘person’ at all.
I ‘want’ something better than that, too. I suppose, I ‘want’ the whole ‘Carl Rogers’ recognition of singular value, for everyone, so the first and most important part of education is - discernment, informed choice, so that everyone gets to understand recognised values of learning precision/accuracy/clarity in language, why it matters, what it is ‘for’, long before finding themselves obliged to grapple with lessons that may still appear to them, to be useless. Maybe later they get it.
You wrote about lazy, aggressively indifferent non learners. My dad was identified in such a way. He was, in fact, dyslexic, but I didn’t know till my 20s, when I realised he couldn’t read ‘Rupert books’ to my son, and he made up a story to fit the pictures.
He had too many other failings, to list, that qualified him in 99% of social status races, as a top grade, total loser, none of which he deserved.