Monday, February 15, 2010

In Defense of "Like"

AS a committed Californian, geographically, linguistically and emotionally, I take issue with the demonization of the word 'like.' Yes frequent use of the word 'like' is a marker of informal, not formal speech. Yes like, (or um, or errr) can be used as grammatically irrelevant filler, although it can also be used to mean 'said,' 'as, 'or to indicate a an exaggeration (my backpack weighs like a million pounds). Mr. Hitchens, world, lay off. The fact that students have a hard time with formal, academic writing is neither caused, nor best exemplified by the use, or overuse, of the word like. The solution to the fact that it is hard to 'code switch' from informal spoken, to written English is not to change informal English to make the two the same, but to teach written English better.