This Language Trend Be Like, 'I'm Not Going Away'

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Instead of "she said" or "I said," it's common to hear "she was like" or "I was like."

The quotative use of "like" makes parents cringe, but linguists say those who try to fight the pervasive trend are facing a losing battle, as the use has spread through the entire English-speaking world.

Similarly, the phrasing "be like" - as in "girls be like" and "unicorns be like" (see one of the most popular Vines last year) is on the rise and a popular source of memes.

Joining Here & Now's Robin Young to talk about the quotative like is Washington, D.C.-based writer Britt Peterson, whose column on the subject appeared in The Boston Globe.

Peterson says "he said" is qualitatively different from "he was like." The latter represents a state of being, instead of just a verbal statement.


This segment aired on February 12, 2015.



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