Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pet Peeves: Extreme Overuse Of The Word ‘Like’

So, like, I was downtown the other day. And, like, there was, like, a girl behind me, who was, like, speaking quickly and, like, using the word like, like it was going out of, like, style. In one paragraph, she, like, must have used the word, like, unnecessarily at least, like, 10 times.

Like, am I making you, like, crazy yet?

OHMYGOD!

[take a deep breath]

THE. WORD. LIKE. IS. DRIVING. ME. NUTS.

[take another deep breath]

It is extremely overused. And gets annoying really fast.

[still another deep breath]


Many teenagers and young adults (and even some older people, if we’re going to be honest) use the word ‘like’ over and over and over and over again when they speak to you until it gets to a point of feeling as though someone is banging you over the head with a sledgehammer. Like, hard.

And it’s not as if the word ‘like’ is a bad word. It’s actually a very useful one. It’s a simile; an analogy that compares two things that are similar in one way. An example of this would be: “I slept like a log.” So, it’s a good word. A word we appreciate. And embrace.

BUT. NOT. WHEN. IT’S. USED. OVER. AND. OVER. AND. OVER. AGAIN.

Needlessly.

“And then I was like...and he was like...and they were like...so she was like...and we were like...”

Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like... Like...

One explanation for why this is happening is that people talk much faster, put less effort into choosing their words and do a brain dump with filler words, such as ‘like’, to fill in the gaps instead of just pausing for a moment before continuing to speak.

I think many of us are guilty of using the same filler words and phrases over and over again, which can be really annoying to others. And I’m sure I have my own maddening habits. So, I’m not claiming to be innocent in this post; I’m just writing about one pet peeve word that makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Over and over again.

What bothers you? What overused word makes you grind your teeth?


I thought this is hilarious. (source)

18 comments:

  1. I loathe the word awesome, as it's used in everyday conversation. I now want to rip my ears off when I hear it.What a grouchy kitty I am!

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    1. Hahaha...you are so funny, Sulky. I'm imagining that word being used continuously and can certainly see how it could become quite annoying.

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    2. "It's all gud"...drives me crazy....

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  2. I, like, totally know what you mean. it's, like, some really bad habit. I guess all fillers are, and perhaps they reflect some sort of insecurity? "Uh" (generally said several times in succession) actually bothers quite a bit, but then I've got my occasional "y'know"s!

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    1. They are like any other bad habit. And most of us use filler words at times. My husband has the 'yknow' habit and after having a lengthy conversation with him, sometimes I find myself picking up his habit. It's contagious...LOL...

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  3. Hahaha...I, like, soooooo know what you mean, Martha. When I first started hearing "like" used like that, I hated it. But I think I got acclimated to it somehow (perhaps having had teenagers and friends around), and now, I must confess (hope you won't think less of me!) I find myself using it far more than I should. And, like, I don't even know when it happened!

    Okay, here's one of my many word pet peeves: the gratuitous abbreviating of so many words. Like, why say a word with three syllables when you can use two? *rolls eyes* I mean, I can see using "app" for application. But, just to use two examples I saw yesterday when I was researching automotive transmissions (don't ask why) and Toyota Tacomas. People were calling the transmission a "tranny" and the Tacoma, a "Taco." For the love of Pete, WHY? A taco is a food item, not a truck. A tranny is...well, I don't know what the heck it is.

    Thanks...it was good to get that off my chest. :-)

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    1. No way would I think less of you, Beth! I have a teenager and a young adult, and believe me, the word 'like' is used regularly in this house. Sometimes I catch the bug and find myself inserting it in my sentences. Add the 'you know' that my husband uses all the time, and I probably drive people over the edge. LOL...

      Your word pet peeve is another habit people have. I'm not sure what that's all about. Are we getting too lazy to speak in full?

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  4. "Like" actually has several useful conversational meanings, even though you're only considering a few of them "proper."

    One is that if you're having trouble thinking of the next word, "like" signals that you're still talking and that it's not the other person's turn yet, giving you more time to come up with whatever word(s) you're having trouble coming up with. It can be overdone, obviously, and you complain about this usage in your post, but people from every time period have these (um, uh, you know, er, so, now, I mean, yo). New words go in and out of fashion, but the need for filler words seems to be perennial. Generally people grow out of them at some point, once their brain development catches up.

    Example: "What was up with, like, that ridiculous algebra test?"

    The second is that it's a signifier that what follows is a performance or imitation. It's distinct from "said" or "told" in that you're presenting what follows as an imitation or performance. This is the one that's being used in your "So I was like . . . and he was like . . . " example.

    Example: "So then I was like, 'oh my god that is so awesome I want to have your babies,' but all sarcastic."
    Example: "I just looked at him for a second, and then I was like," [rolls eyes].

    Three, a general signal that what follows is approximate, which probably derives from the accepted comparative (this thing is like that thing) construction.

    Example: "They wanted, like, a dollar for a fucking candy bar!"

    Four, a general signal that what follows is hyperbole. This only works if both speakers have a common understanding of what's normal and acceptable, obviously, 'cause when it's confused for the third, comedy ensues.

    Example: "That's nothing. I was in a train station one time that sold candy bars for like five dollars."
    Example: "I am like completely poor right now."

    You don't have to, like, like any of these uses, but if you're all like "HULK SMASH!!" every time you hear the word, you're going to give yourself like an aneurysm or something, so, like, calm down. The kids will, like, grow out of it? Or something? It's not like they're doing it just to, like, upset you. Maybe next time this happens, you can be like, "I know! I'll analyze what they're saying and see how many different ways they're using the word! Which will, like, give my brain something to do and reduce my irritation!" (filler, approve of, performative, hyperbole, approximation, approximation, comparison, performative, filler)

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    1. Lots of interesting points here, Mr.S. And all very good ones. I'll have to keep them in mind. But not to worry. The majority of the time I do not notice the filler words; I'm too busy thinking about other more important things. So I don't want it to seem as though I'm tense and stressed over this all the time. This post was supposed to be a little fun; it's exaggerated to make it more interesting. I certainly hope you did find some humour in it.

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  5. "She's a valley girl, a valley girl." you know, ike one of my favorite songs from Zappa.

    I hate, and I mean hate, the abbreviation of alright that is going around now. Everyone says "aight". Drives me crazy.

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    1. Now, that's definitely a new one for me, WebDebris. I've never heard it. Or I don't think I have. I'll have to pay attention and see if we use it here. Could be a local habit.

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  6. oh MArtha, I can't believe you wrote about this! My husband and I were just discussing we say this word too much, "like" we can't not say it :P

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    1. Well, you're certainly not alone, Ana! It's very popular to do. It's said quite often in our home along with the 'you know'!

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  7. I love that you wrote this. Things that bother me are when people say, "these ones" and "those ones," my mom taught me when I was young that those phrases are redundant and annoying and now they are constantly getting on my nerves.
    Also I hate when people use the word whenever, when they actually mean when.
    For example;
    "whenever we went to the park yesterday, I went down the slide."

    Maybe not the best example, but you get the idea.

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    1. That's also a new one to me - the 'whenever'. I'm not sure I've heard it. If we really stop and listen carefully to people speaking, we can notice a whole bunch of unusual habits. Looks like your mom taught you well.

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  8. Hahaha!! Great post :) This is hilarious because it's true. I think one explanation for the overuse of the word 'like' is that our vocabularies are shrinking... seriously. I read a while back that every year we as a society use fewer and fewer words that were once commonly in use. If you have an opportunity to look through a dictionary from forty years ago, you'll see words in there are NEVER used! Also reading classic literature (I just read Jane Eyre) will drive this fact home very quickly. The one word that I use too often (& hate when others use it, lol) is "whatever" - it's quite a dismissive word if you really think about it.

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    1. Hahahaha...oh boy, you will never know just how much I laughed with your post, Jane. I also use the word 'whatever' a little too often. Not always, but certainly more than I need to. And I'm so aware of this habit that I told my husband that should I die before him, I want him to write 'Whatever' on my tombstone. LOL...

      I believe it that our vocabularies are shrinking. I wonder why that is.

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    2. I wish our vocabularies were shrinking, but it's not even close to that. A dictionary from 1972 wouldn't include the words/terms/modern meanings for: cablinasian, affluenza, bucket list, iPhone, first-person shooter, app, santorum, WiFi, advertorial, cell phone, copyleft, alcopop, Islamophobia, captcha, malware, (G/g)oogle, superweed, internet, barkitecture, flash drive, copicide/suicide-by-cop, bullyproofing, blog/blogger/blogging, GMO, tankini, Streisand Effect, carborexia, slow food, plothole, cosplay, agritourist, broccoflower, soccer mom, telecommute, goatse, smize, burquini, helicopter parent[ing], donorcycle, muffin top, satisfice, NASCAR, downsize, Gen X, prion, backstory, Taser, buzzword bingo, lightsaber, anchor store, banana problem, coolhunter, cyberspace, virtual reality, pro-choice, astroturfing, beat sweetener, secret shopper, careware, pedeconference, cremains, bromance, saddlebacking, dittohead, blobject, 419 scam, posterize, spam, timesuck, career coach, Photoshop/photoshop, big-box store, dormcest, plus-size, tiger mother, webinar, bridezilla, content-free, supersize, disease cluster, Skype/skype, truthiness, spin, animal hoarding, bleg, fauxhawk, Brangelina, dead cat bounce, backronym, snowclone, crowdsourcing, emo, smartphone, ethernet, brain fart, tweetup, starter marriage, infomercial, sheeple, completist, foodie, lurker, adorkable, black swan, shoegaze, extreme sports, bling, aight, brogrammer, staycation, Splenda, cattalo, webisode, pastafarian, AIDS, freegan, spave, cromulent, demonym, anthropocene, eliminationism, [relation]shipper, locavore, feminazi, rightsizing, Twihard, secondary virginity, bork, climate porn, blamestorming, Colbert bump, birther, dubstep, heroin chic, neurodiversity, photoblog, bot, drunk dial, sock puppet (internet), cyberchondriac, liposculpture, arm candy, regift, Bacon number, cisgender[ed], tumblr, supertaster, hacktivism, spyware, Facebook, data mining, SARS, click laundering, rap, robocall, men's rights activist, podcast, lactivism, crowdfunding, tipping point, scareware, self-checkout, Manhattanhenge, moneybomb, truthiness, yuppie, left coast, digilante, shakycam, Twitterverse, chemtrail, biometrics, curbsider, dumpster diver, anecdata, Bollywood, cube farm, Reaganomics, SIDS, dashboard dining, cougar, 'sup, celebutard, heteronormative, flash mob, Groupon/groupon, hashtag activism, hack, Tofurkey, landscraper, cyberbully, lipstick lesbian, rusticle, charismatic megafauna, transgenic, andropause, daycation, teabagger, crowdfunding, WTF, Botox, prequel, redshirt, turducken, or retrophilia. And that's not anywhere close to a complete list of new words from the last forty years.

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