Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Like, It's Really, like, Overused

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Like, It's Really, like, Overused

Article excerpt

Much of my time is spent with high school and college students. Enjoyable time, of course. But not totally. It's when they talk. As in, it's when they, like, talk. Or tell you that it's, like, awesome. Or that they are late to class because, like, it was raining.

It's a rare sentence that goes likeless, as if like were a crutch on which language hobbles along only a slow step ahead of babble talk.

I've had students sprinkle in more than 30 likes in only a couple of sentences. The likes pour out so profusely that I did the counting by twos. Threes might have been easier. I thought of calling the school electrician to wire each seat. Every time I'd hear a like, I'd press a clicker that would send a volt or two into the speaker. Shock 'em into coherency.

As supercarriers of this linguistic virus, the young appear to be affecting the whole population. A recent New Yorker cartoon showed a psychiatrist sitting behind the office couch and telling his reclining patient, "Can we start all over? Like, from 1987, say?"

Elle magazine quoted the teen starlet Hilary Duff rhapsodizing about her boyfriend: "He doesn't socialize. He's very real, like, he's from a pretty ghetto place in Maryland."

The Washington Post quoted a lovestruck Romeo on how the evening went with his date: "I wanted to call her, like, an hour after I left."

Here's Roseann Barr, an alleged comedian, displaying her oral tic: "I could totally win [against President Bush] in a mind contest. Like, if it was, like, a psychic thing and he was, like, OK, Roseanne, bring your best powers against my best powers, even though he's like, totally worldwide connected, and I'm not so worldwide, I could so totally still win on account of, like, being female, being a grandmother and, like, you know, being intelligent, I could totally win."

None of this ghastliness, Barr none, has gone unnoticed by defenders of correct speech. …

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