Monday, September 17, 2012

Like, totally

The other day, Alex and I were talking about saying the word like too much.  A stigma often associated with girls and now as "valley girls" and 90s children are in their 30s and 40s, women.  A friend told me that something her brother noticed as a turn off about a woman he was dating, was that she said like too much, and then Alex said that sometimes he noticed that I said it a lot.  And I was mortified.  Like, I couldn't get over it. (Do you see what I did there?)  Even though he kept saying that it's only something that he notices sometimes, not all of the time and that he still thinks I'm really articulate, I couldn't help but obsess.  I have never wanted to be a "like girl" and yet, I'm pretty sure I like, totally am.  I know I have been saying the word "like" since elementary school.  It wasn't something that my parents did, it was something I picked up at school and from Nickelodeon.

And while I say that I know that I am smart, I think maybe feeling confident in how smart I am is something that I struggle with, which is why when I'm told I say like too much, I want to crawl up in a ball and die.

Have you seen this clip of Tavi Gevinson on Jimmy Fallon?


She is so articulate, and funny.  She is the epitome of cool and manages to make Jimmy Fallen act like the teenage girl in the interview.  I love her so much! (You NEED to buy her book if you haven't already), but her interview made me wonder, would I, a thirty year old woman, sound that smart and funny on a talk show too?  I'm not sure.  However, after watching it a second time, I realized that both her and Jimmy are saying like all over the place!  Which I didn't notice the first time watching, and I don't think I would have noticed the second time around if I hadn't been looking for it.  I guess saying like really isn't that big of a deal any more, but is that something we should be okay with?

An article came out in the NY Times this February that I really loved- the title itself is amazing, "They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve"  It talks about how female created slang is usually associated with immaturity and stupidity, and yet that style of talking is rapidly taking over the world.

So can I take my insecurity about using the word like as a conversation filler and turn it into something more powerful?  I'd like to, but i'm not sure if it's that easy.  Just as I'd like to stop saying it so often, but don't even realize when I'm doing it.

I'll leave you with a clip of one of the best characters in cinematic history ahead of the linguistic curve, Cher Horowitz, to help you mull over this complicated problem.



Do you ever struggle with being self conscious of the way you speak, readers? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!  And in conclusion, may I please remind you, that it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty! 

13 comments:

  1. I'm a frequent "like" abuser, too, but usually don't let it bother me. Sometimes I catch myself and feel a bit ridiculous when it's happening too often, but I tend to chalk the stigma up to holier-than-thou "grammar nazi" types and it just makes me like a more easy going person to not care.

    I love bringing up the point that stereotypically female slang is seen as a silly/unintelligent thing--it's important for women to just be aware of subtle anti-feminine tendencies that we might not take the time to realize.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Although it is a conversation filler, i feel that using the word like can come across as being laid back and comfortable not flighty and airheadish like the Clueless girls. Its all about how you say it. If you used another conversation filler like ummm, you would come across as insecure and nervous. As far as conversation fillers go, I don't think like is all that bad. Dont be so hard on yourself, Sarah. You are one of the most articulate women I know, likes and all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I say like all the time too! I think it depends on the context. The "I was like..." context is pretty much acceptable these days. It's just the way language is evolving.

    When it is peppered into sentences in completely irrelevant places, that's when it becomes vacuous.

    Becky
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm definitely self-conscious when I'm speaking to people other than close friends. I also use the words definitely and awesome way too much.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I feel like I'm nowhere near as articulate as I should be! I get flustered sometimes when I speak, and then I start using weird filler words, "like" included.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am hands down the worst public speaker ever (I actually had to take a public speaking class my sophomore year of college and I found it completely mortifying) - it's like the likes just come out to play. It's terrible. I say like all the time!

    I think Tavi is amazing, though. So put together at her age!

    ReplyDelete
  7. i remember taking a toastmasters class years ago and becoming aware of "fillers" i used in speech...now i can't help but notice when people overuse words like "like" or "um"

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm a hand-flapper when I'm talking; I can be articulate but I probably totally distract people from it by waving my arms in their face throughout the conversation.

    I say "totally" too much, too... I like that dates from the "like" era.

    And, ugh, Tavi is exactly who I wanted to BE when I was her age. And I still kind of do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *think* that dates. That's DEFINITE over-use of the word "like" right there.

      Delete
  9. Hah! Before I read this post, this morning my daughter was talking to me and I was distracted the whole time by how often she said the word "like".
    I even thought about bringing it up with the kids about how we should call each other out everytime we hear the other say "like" in conversation. I'm a total "like" abuser. I thought it was a California thing. I also say "That's cool," and "Wow" way too much in conversations with others when I'm not really interested in what the other is saying. It's automatic and annoying when I catch myself doing it. I must sound as if I'm a total idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I say "like" a lot, but seeing as English is not my first language, its function doubles as a device for gaining time while I'm figuring out the right expression.
    Fillers are extremely contagious, though. I pick up accents and speech patterns unwillingly, so if I spend too much near someone who uses "like" or any of its Czech equivalents, I will start using it too...

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love this post! I say like a lot too and used to get made fun of that I talked like a valley girl....it's so hard to give up! Clueless is one of my favorite movies of all time. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Clueless is the best. I watched that clip I posted like 12 times. Thanks for the shout out on your blog! xo

      Delete