Like, A Re-run

What is The Message? blogs about a story in the Toronto Star in which University of Toronto linguist Sali Tagliamonte describes the "unprecedented" evolution of the English language thanks to teenagers' extended use of the word, "like."

Mark Federman accounts for the explosion thusly:

When we used to relate an incident or a conversation, we related it directly. We quoted what someone actually said, or described what something actually was, as opposed to what it was "like." In substituting the simile for the verb (and yes, I realize that the usage in this case is not strictly the comparative, but, like, bear with me…) we are subconsciously creating a simulacrum of the experience for our listener, rather than treating the experience as a true first-person account. We have become so conditioned by mass-media - and especially television - to show us simulacra of the world (think so-called Reality TV) that we adopt the same stance, even without a camera. Interestingly, this is a reversal from the perception in McLuhan's day, that TV brought the world in to our homes. Now, it is a fabrication of the world, a surrogate world, made by producers. Not the world, but what the world is like.

Some interesting food for thought as I re-run my own musings on the emergence of "like" in the context of sports videogames.


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