A while back, I asked my Facebook friends about the business weasel words and phrases they can’t stand. I know other bloggers have written similar posts and held contests on detestable business speak. I’ve had my list sitting here for a while, and I’ll post it next week. What I had to share was a conversation, if you’d want to call it that, my family overheard while dining out earlier this week.
Seated directly behind my wife were two 20-something girls, talking about… whatever. We couldn’t understand the conversation (no, we weren’t eavesdropping) but were fascinated by the utterly gratuitous use of the word “like”. I know what you’re thinking. Use of the word “like” is more common than weeds. This woman’s use, however, was extreme. Here’s an approximation:
“Like, I told Jessica, like, she had, like, a really, like, bad attitude about her boyfriend, and, like, if she, like, didn’t want to see him anymore, she should, like, stop seeing him….”
My wife decided to clock how many times she heard “like”. At the height of the onslaught, she counted 10 in a mere 20 seconds. That’s a lot of “likes”.
We disliked it.
What’s wrong with this overuse of “like”? It turns out, grammatically and historically, nothing, according to language columnist Mark Peters. To me, the word “like” is the preferred binder and filler of the English language. Similar to contracting a pathogen from bad food processing, this woman, and so many like her, have fallen victim to a verbal plague.
Like is perfectly fine when it’s used as a comparative word. Use like. Just don’t use it as effortlessly as many people swear.
What other “binder” words do you “dislike”?