Like is, like, so over used. I mean, it is totally, like, the most annoying word in the English language. Like, can someone, like, eliminate that word forever?
OK, humor aside. I saw this blog entry by Madeleine Crum on the Huffington Post book section Thursday, and it made me smile. See, I’m self-conscious by how often I use the word “like” in my daily speech and also when I write my stories. Using the word “like”, even to describe something, kind of takes me back to high school where there was that one girl who literally said “like” after ever other word. Looking back, it was quite endearing to hear that. Hey, I’d rather hear “like” being used over and over, than “you know?” in every sentence.
Crum points out why “like” is being used so often in everyday language:
Like it or not, irony has become an “ethos of our age.” On one hand, a lack of earnestness makes a speaker seem vapid — they’ve nothing substantive to say, so they rely on sarcasm or ridicule. On the other hand, speaking and living with a healthy dose of irony is a way of conveying self-awareness. You can say that you “like, love watching ‘The Bachelor’,” which is to say that you sincerely enjoy the show, but also know that it’s a silly waste of time.
Oh yeah. Very true. Even I use that word in that manner.
So even though the word “like” may have been seemingly hijacked by people labeled as airheads, but it should not be disregarded in the English language. Crum’s blog has this quote from Allan Metcalf to explain how we need that word in literature:
“[It] allows us to introduce not just what we said or thought, but how. Instead of merely saying words, ‘like’ with ‘be’ allows us to enact the scene. And that, I think, is because it’s an extension of a longstanding use of ‘like’ to indicate manner: March came in like a lion, He raged like a madman.”
When I write, I’m very conscious not to use “like” to describe something. I try very hard to substitute it with “as if” or “as though”. The use of “like” makes me think people might think I’m a ditz. But then again, by using those two other terms so often makes it looks like (see what I did there?) I’m trying too hard to not use that word.
But “like” sounds so simple and welcoming. Saying “as if” seems kind of snooty. It also reminds me of the 90s teen classic movie , “Clueless”, which I remember fondly but Cher’s frequent use of that term was annoying. Using the term “as though” sounds kind of snooty in a “er, duh!” type of way.
“Like” seems to flow like water on a warm summer day. “Like” envelops you gracefully into its arms. “Like” is, like you know, perfect!
But yeah, as authors we have to switch up our word usage so we wouldn’t be so redundant. Too bad each term reminds you of something not terrible, but not so pleasant. Especially when it used far too often in everyday speech. Ugh, as if!