Monday, April 11, 2011

'Like' it or not

Looking at a blog post by a teenager (for instance those written by my classmates), you might never realize the age of the writer. Through writing teens are capable of disguising their youth. We have time to edit our thoughts into concise, meaningful sentences. Oral language is a different story. Ideas are racing through our minds faster than we can filter, so you might hear the occasional (or frequent) slip up. ‘Like’ is a very common language “mistake” for American teenagers. ‘Like’ is used as a filler to indicate a pause in order to think. To adults, teen conversations can seem very juvenile when fillers such as ‘like’ and ‘y’know’ are used. Believe it or not, filler words are not limited to American teens. Every language and age group has a set of filler words. It's more common for adults to use the fillers ‘um’ and ‘ah’. Often times adults think the use of ‘like’ is more incorrect than other fillers because ‘like’ is an actual word in the English language and has a correct use. ‘Like’ is a confusing filler because it is used to establish a pause, to indicate metaphor, to introduce gestures/reactions, to replace ‘says’ in dialogue, to show similarities, and to express delight. Wikipedia indicates that ‘like’ is a slang term in Finnish, French, Norwegian, and Portuguese. Obviously these languages use words that have the same meaning as ‘like’, not necessarily the exact word. To prove that fillers aren’t strictly American, the first link featured below has an entertaining video of teens from the UK speaking in slang and then translating into more universal English. See how much you understand! Finally, I find it interesting that certain filler words are common in occupations. For instance, the word ‘so’ has become typical for radio hosts and I guess anyone with a story to tell. Why is ‘so’ and introductory and transition filler? Any thoughts? BBC article about UK teenage slang: BBC article about like: Wikipedia page about filler words: Freakonomics blog post about so: I apologize for the odd format of this post and lack of spacing between paragraphs. Neither of my home computers will allow me to add spacing to my blog post. I will attempt to fix this problem elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Lauren! It's interesting that we chose to write about the same thing under different umbrellas. There is a foreign exchange student here from Norway this year (you might know her?) and she often uses the word like in the same way that the rest of us do. I always thought that it was just something she picked up from being in America but your blog post made me think that maybe she uses "like" even when she speaks Norwegian!