Bringing the Text to Life
Spend five minutes in conversation with anyone college-age or younger these days, and you may find yourself, like, subtly annoyed. An irritatingly repetitive like adjusts every observation made, every point pondered by many young people. "She was, like, totally awful to him." "That test was, like, completely unfair." "He, like, hardly noticed anyone anymore he was so stuck up."
What is with this intrusive like anyway? What does it mean and what do our young speakers intend by its use?
Linguistic experts have been listening to this like sensation in teenage language and have determined that its existence is partially linked to the female socialization process. Women, these researchers claim, are not socially accepted if they come on as strong or aggressively assertive as men. Just as women feel pressured to acquiesce to male leadership and assertiveness, their language begins to soften up as well. Like constantly inserted into every judgment or statement diminishes the power of the...