Monday, February 21, 2011

"Like, you know"

If the "like, you know" pattern of speech is as grating to your ears as it is to mine, then you might want to check out this article at City Journal by Clark Whelton, who, among other things was a speechwriter for New York City mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani.

Whelton wonders if this pattern, or tic, is actually a sign, along with many other things, of what he calls a descent into "Vagueness".   By this he means "shifting the burden of communication from speaker to listener. Ambiguity, evasion, and body language, such as air quotes—using fingers as quotation marks to indicate clichés—were transforming college English into a coded sign language in which speakers worked hard to avoid saying anything definite."

It's a short piece, so give it a read.  Like, I think Whelton may well be on to something, you know?

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