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Old 03-17-2012, 10:42 PM
Location: Phoenix Arizona
2,032 posts, read 4,043,046 times
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Much of what people call "Valley Girl" is western dialect. It's just entering the mainstream.
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Old 03-18-2012, 02:39 PM
Location: Toronto
3,338 posts, read 5,803,928 times
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Originally Posted by Mightyqueen801 View Post
I noticed my daughter starting to do that (she's 20 and in college) and pointed it out to her. I don't want to hear her speaking that way, and it sounds unprofessional and ignorant. She is a linguistics major so she not only became aware of it, but started researching WHY people do that. LOL.
Interesting stuff (the socio-linguistics behind use of the word "like"). What are some of the ideas on why people do it?

Even when I was in college, a girl I knew (and former co-worker) really did the high-rising intonation at the end a lot as well as using the word "like" quite often, and though she was very bright and intellectual (winning scholarships etc. and very skilled in her area of science she was researching), she was constantly reminded not to in presentations (with worries that people will see her as unprofessional etc. despite the real content of her presentations, which were always very informative). Last time I talked to her a few years back, she was also planning on going to teach English overseas after she graduated (is it just me or does everyone seem to be doing this these days. ) in Korea or somewhere like that.

I'm not that knowledgeable about linguistics (though I do have it as one of my many curiosities about the world; for instance, I used to sneak into one of my linguistics major friends' classes undercover to listen to interesting talks!) but going back to "like", I've heard some ideas about its usage. The thing is there is not one single usage -- even the kind associated with valley girls can be divided into a few uses -- one kind is just "like" as filler, or just something to say to fill in pauses, such as "um" or "uh"; another separate usage is "like" as quotative, so instead of saying something like "She said (blah, blah, blah) or he claimed, or shouted or thought or whispered (blah, blah, blah)" one would say "She's like (blah, blah, blah) and he's like (blah, blah, blah). Another type of usage is "like" as showing approximation or to show that something is not exact, such as "These shoes were, like, $90", or "There were, like half the guys over there who got scared by the snake" -- this usage replaces "about" or "roughly" and expresses uncertainty.

One idea I've heard bounced around is that society is becoming a bit more egalitarian and less formal (eg. less power difference between say, boss and employee or for instance parent and kid, so people are more free to use informal language). When power distances are lower as well, people are more free to be more personal and use anecdotes/approximation while talking rather than "straightforward" and blunt or obedient and polite. That might explain the use of "like" for approximating something or recounting an event in the "she's like (blah, blah), he's like (blah, blah) format" instead of "she said, he said" which then becomes a bit old-fashioned and blunt, just as "she stated" or "he stated" seems in daily speech. When people are more free to "tell personal stories" that involve ambiguity and approximation, than impersonal facts, they may say "the shoes were, like $90" which expresses more emotion/narrative about the price (are they surprised that it's high or low?) than saying "the shoes were about $90 or around $90". Regardless of whether "real" valley girls in California "caused it" or not, one consequence of using "like" is that the word itself (even in meaning "similar to", "roughly", "resembling") is particularly suited, or has taken on a real role in telling personal anecdotes.

But that's definitely a cool topic (and relevant to how language reflects society)!
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