I Guess I’m Just Not With the Times

Do you like the way the word “like” is now being used? Do you, like, see no reason to, like, be concerned about this? Are you like “The language is just evolving?” Or do you not like this contemporary usage any more than I do?

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I have watched as today’s’ publishers of children’s and young adult books have been letting their characters model what I consider atrocious English usage.  Two of the most prevalent examples of this were using the word “goes” instead of “said.” Example: “So he goes “You’ve got to be kidding.” And so on.

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The other example was the use of the word “like” as a  placeholder while thinking of something to say, or in the phrase “was like” instead of “said.” An example of the first would be “So he, like, wanted to take me out, but I, like, couldn’t, like, stand him.”  An example of the second would be “So he’s like “I don’t believe it! and I’m like “It’s true.”

As I read sentences like this in the new books being published a few years back I cringed, because I knew that reading this kind of dialogue would validate less than standard English among those who most needed to learn standard English. Today I saw “How to Use the Word Like in English.” I guess I’m now officially a dinosaur.

It’s also true that books that use this slang will soon be obsolete. Language fads don’t last long. I’m hoping these like-laden books will, like, disappear like very soon.

I believe this was written for people learning English as a Second Language. I rather wish it had been written to help ESL students understand this usage when they heard it, not to teach them that this is how to use the word. This usage not only wrecks the sound of the English language and supports fuzzy thinking, but it also tangles up the rules of punctuation.

Is this the kind of English usage now being taught in American public schools?