I mentioned in my previous post how we had some American friends stay with us over the summer. One of them was a teen girl who, as teens do, used “like” every now and then. A habit I soon found myself repeating.
Then I came across an interesting article on The Economist on this very subject and I started to wonder: like, where does “like” fit in? And is it useful, or simply an irritating extra word, to be cut off a sentence with the ferocity of a gardener weeding off his prized roses?
To answer that question, we must first understand the many uses of like.
The Beatnik Like
As The Economist explains, the first kind of like, sometimes referred to as “beatnik like,” is an expression of wonderment. It is found in decades-old exclamations such as “Like, wow, man.”
This use is now considered so rare that one scholar even considers it to have been apocryphal, more ascribed to beatniks than actually uttered by them.