Time for “like” to go?

There was a time . . .

When people said “said,” to express attribution. Here’s an example.

She said she would go out with me if I got my hair cut.

I said, “Fine. I’d like that, too, if only you wouldn’t be so judgmental.”

Said became an effective verb for us to use to attribute speech to someone else or to ourselves.

Other attribution verbs, specific to a situation, came into common use.

“Get your car out of my parking space,” he demanded.

“All of my friends are going,” she wailed.

We chose such variations on occasion for emphasis and clarity.

But good old reliable said continued to serve us well for even those situations.

Then, along came go. Not sure that I can identify a specific starting date for this. Maybe you remember when go replaced said.

He goes, “Forget about attending the concert until you do your homework.” So I go, “Why are you so mean?”

Go became the preferred verb of attribution and ruled for years. Did some actor in a movie use it? Hollywood and television do influence speech patterns and become habits with time.

Suddenly, go went, and I was like or I’m like took over. Puzzling. Why like, of all words?

Firmly ingrained in our speech, “I’m like” and “I was like” feels almost like a permanent change.

He’s like, “Let’s go dancing.” So I’m like, “I don’t have anything to wear.”

Doesn’t make much sense, but there it is. I like the word like fine when it’s used correctly: I like chocolate. Loving you is like nothing I’ve experienced before. Like can be an adjective, as in, What is he like? or as a preposition, as in, She swims like a fish, or as a verb, as in I’d like to think this over, Like is versatile, for sure, but using it in attribution is simply weird.

We don’t know when or where it started to be used that way. It will go away when something equally inappropriate replaces it. One can only hope.

He said.


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