The selective attention paid to the language of adolescents has led to the enduring belief that young people are ruining the language and that, as a consequence, the language is degenerating. One feature of contemporary vernaculars that is often held up as exemplification of these ideological principles is like, the “much-deplored interjection... that peppers the talk of so many of the unpliant young these days” (Wilson 1987, 92). There is, in fact, an intricate lore surrounding like. It includes the idea that like is meaningless, that women say it more than men do, and that it is an Americanism, introduced by the Valley Girls. This article systematically addresses ideologically driven myths about the uses and users of like. Drawing on empirical data, it seeks to disentangle the facts from the fiction that has been cultivated in the general social consciousness. It is argued that most beliefs about like are either false (e.g., meaninglessness, Valley Girl creationism) or too broad to reflect any coherent reality (e.g., the role of women). However, in examining individual beliefs about like, it becomes clear that each contributes to the perpetuation of others in important and nontrivial ways.
Alexandra D'Arcy; LIKE AND LANGUAGE IDEOLOGY: DISENTANGLING FACT FROM FICTION. American Speech 1 November 2007; 82 (4): 386–419. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2007-025
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