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February 15, 2024 38 mins

Like is a very divisive word. Purists think it's like, a filler word born in the 80s that's like, destroying the English language. Turns out none of these are like, true. 

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you Should Know, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:11):
Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh, and there's
Chuck and Jerry's here too, and this is stuff you
should Know. Another linguistic, fantastic, gigantic addition devisive. I guess
really though, I mean, if you're standing up against the
use or over use of the word like, just take

your head out of the hole and look around and
see other things that are really worth your time and
effort and attention and energy.

Speaker 1 (00:41):
Yeah, we've gotten the random email here and there, and
like you said, we're talking about the word like, not
as in, like you said, although we're going to cover
all the you know, supposedly proper uses.

Speaker 2 (00:54):
Yeah. Also we're going to accidentally use like or unconsciously
use it, and this is going to be a really
confusing episode.

Speaker 1 (01:00):
Yeah, because it's how people talk for the most part,
and it's not just young girls. As we'll see, that's
sort of a sexist thing to think, in a misnomer.
We all do it generally, unless you are one of
those people who thinks that it debases the human language
and speech and you have taken a real stand against it,

you know, godspeed If that's the hell you want to
die on. But like, it ain't mine.

Speaker 2 (01:28):
No, some people get so into it they throw cow's
blood on people on the street when they use the word.
Like So, Chuck, let's talk about the word like itself,
because there is like plenty of oh my god, I
just did it. There is plenty of good usage or
accepted usage of it that's not controversial at all, which

makes sense because it's been with us for a really
long time. Apparently like goes all the way back to
old English. That's some old English, right, eight ball eight hundred.
There's a word called gel it geliched, and I looked
it up. It is leitched, even though you'd think it
was lytched l i t c h that's how it's pronounced,
but it's spelled g e l i c jeelich and

basically yeah, and basically it meant with the body. Leich
meant body. Really it meant corpse. So that was the
like literal meaning of gel it jeeliched jelich.

Speaker 1 (02:30):
So uh, practically speaking, geeliched meant uh with the body
of and then eventually kind of similar to and then
over time, because language changes, thank goodness, we don't speak
called English anymore geliched that's even hard to say on
its own.

Speaker 3 (02:48):

Speaker 1 (02:48):
That was shortened to just l I C, which I
guess would just be leich, And by then it had
lost the connection to corpse and body and became the
root of the word, as in similar to.

Speaker 2 (03:02):
Yeah, isn't that fascinating? It originally meant corpse, and it
meant related to the corpse, then it meant to with
the body over similar to, and then just similar boom
bam bomb.

Speaker 3 (03:14):
I love it.

Speaker 1 (03:14):
And for a long long time it was used in
Old English like as a suffix, and then that carried
over like f O l C l i C would
have been I guess folk Folkleisch sounds German like folk
like in other words, folks see. But then, you know,

Americans started using it like, you know, Josh looks angry
like or that person is saint like, and sometimes we
still use it like that, but in general we came
up with l y to stick on the end of
a word, to make it an adverb, and so we
got words like slowly and saintly instead of saint like
and slow like.

Speaker 2 (03:56):
Yes, so lee l y seems to be have a
ball into an abbreviation for like. It still means the
same thing, we just say it differently. It's abbreviated the
verb two like means like to be pleasing or sufficient.

Speaker 3 (04:12):

Speaker 2 (04:13):
Sure, originally it operated and reversed. D've helped us with this,
by the way, great job, Dave. But if you liked something,
it wasn't expressed as you like it. It was that
the thing you like likes you. There's an example from
the Two Gentlemen of Verona Shakespeare play, where one says
to the One character says to another, the music likes

you not, which means you don't like the music. And
then eventually everybody was like, we sound insane talking like this,
and made it the way that it should be, which
is how we say it today, which would just be
you don't like the music.

Speaker 1 (04:47):
Yeah, there was other weird usages back then that that
have all since sort of gone away. Things earlier, I guess,
up through the seventeenth century, you could say like her
or like us, light could use almost or nearly as
in like that play was so boring. I like to

fell asleep, like I almost fell asleep.

Speaker 2 (05:12):
I like that.

Speaker 3 (05:13):
Yeah, that's a good one.

Speaker 1 (05:15):
And then I believe in about the mid nineteenth century,
which was a pretty late on the scene, usage was
feel like like I feel like going bowling, as in
I'm in the mood to go bowling. I should have
said that likes me, right, bowling likes you.

Speaker 2 (05:34):
Yeah. So, since this has been around, what does for
probably close through a thousand years maybe more Old English
is around for a while, it's it's like has evolved,
but as far as words go, it's really really evolved,
and it's still evolving before our very eyes. But over

the years in modern English, some widely accepted grammatically correct
uses of like have come about. Only five don't even
try to go beyond that.

Speaker 1 (06:08):
Yeah, there are supposedly only five as a verb, obviously
meaning to enjoy. I don't think we have to explain
that as a noun. Like here is a list of
my likes, right, yeah, okay, my turn similar to which
is kind of like of the body.

Speaker 2 (06:28):
The original version of like that's a preposition, so like
you smell like a wet dog, or there is an
example in here that looks like your spatula. What situation
would that arise in.

Speaker 1 (06:45):
A chef cooking competition?

Speaker 2 (06:47):
I guess so where it was stolen by the evil
chef and the friend like the wingman friend chef is like.

Speaker 1 (06:55):
That looks like your spatula. Yeah, yeah, okay, we figured
it that.

Speaker 2 (06:58):
I feel better.

Speaker 3 (06:59):
Now we figured it out.

Speaker 1 (07:01):
What else conjunction replacing as you know, like my dad
always said, don't bother me for advice.

Speaker 3 (07:12):
Oh sorry, I was getting personal.

Speaker 2 (07:15):
Like Josh always said, never trust family.

Speaker 1 (07:17):
Right exactly the quote.

Speaker 2 (07:20):
Okay, so those are those are the ones? Oh, there's
one more as a suffix, like remember we said Saint
Lye or something like that, like still hangs around in
some cases, like you wouldn't say that that guy's innocent
approach to nature is very childly. It's childlike. Yeah, yeah,
but isn't that interesting that? I mean, the exact same thing.

But you could use one for in one instance but
not in another. They're not just interchangeable. I love that.

Speaker 1 (07:49):
Yeah, and childlike is not childish. Two different things there exactly.
But there's no such thing as childly, I think, is
my larger point. That's pretty much the point of the
entire podcast, really, and my point is childlike is wonderful
and childish is awful.

Speaker 3 (08:03):
True out, we should.

Speaker 1 (08:06):
Do one on ish that's a good one.

Speaker 2 (08:08):
I looked it up. I wondered if that came from
lych or Leitch, and it doesn't. It's a it's an
even older word. I think that means from the country
over the origin of so you would be georgeish.

Speaker 1 (08:24):
Yeah, and now people, even my own daughter the other
day I asked her something and she went.

Speaker 2 (08:28):
Ish, yeah, I'd be worth one for sure down the road.

Speaker 1 (08:31):
Maybe a shorty okay, shortish?

Speaker 3 (08:35):
A short like episode.

Speaker 2 (08:36):
Should be a shortly episode? Should we take a breakley?

Speaker 1 (08:40):
Uh, surely, okay, let's do that now.

Speaker 3 (08:45):
Very interesting.

Speaker 1 (09:09):
I just got to say, this is getting pretty fun.

Speaker 2 (09:12):
You knew it was gonna be.

Speaker 3 (09:13):
Yeah, I didn't know. Sure, I didn't.

Speaker 1 (09:17):
I figured we'd be slinging, slinging the slang and that's
where we come to now. Actually, good set up me.
The slang of like is where people people Some people
tend to get upset. It's interesting. Dave here says most
people believe that any use of like outside those acceptable

ways is meaningless. I would say some people. I don't
think most people believe that at all.

Speaker 2 (09:41):
Right, I thought that was an odd, odd word to
use too.

Speaker 1 (09:45):
Yeah, come on, Dave, I can't tell you the last.

Speaker 2 (09:47):
Time I ran into anybody who really had an issue
with it. We haven't gotten an email on it for
a while, but every once in a while some of
them write in and you could tell her just like
bleeding from their eyeballs, like they hate us so much
because we use the word like yeah, and it's just
like I can't do anything for you, man, I'm not
gonna stop talking the way I talk for you.

Speaker 1 (10:07):
Yeah, sorry, the way it is, uh nothing personally.

Speaker 3 (10:11):

Speaker 1 (10:12):
Of course the slang that we're talking about though, that
people have a problem with, and these people are generally like,
you know, it's biller. Uh, it's not even a word.
It's basically your um or you're uh, you're abusing it,
you're over using it. And some people even go so
far as to say it, like I mentioned earlier, like
you're you're destroying the English language.

Speaker 2 (10:32):
Okay, So those people just, I guess, buckle up because
this is the part we're going into now, because it
turns out if you if you hang out with the
hip linguists, they will tell you man like like really
performs a lot of like really important functions. Yeah, that's

like exactly what they would say to you PhDs exactly exactly.

Speaker 1 (11:01):
So Dave wrote up a little script. Do you want
to play Guy number one or Guy number two?

Speaker 2 (11:06):
I would like to be Guy two.

Speaker 3 (11:08):

Speaker 1 (11:10):
You know what's funny is this sounds like a conversation.

Speaker 3 (11:12):
We would have it.

Speaker 1 (11:13):
Totally does backstage at the mall. Yeah, all right, here
we go Guy number one.

Speaker 3 (11:17):
That's me.

Speaker 1 (11:18):
Okay, Hey, Josh, have you seen what they're charging for
the new Jordans.

Speaker 2 (11:23):
I know they're like a million dollars, Like, who could
afford this stuff?

Speaker 1 (11:29):
I think they're like two fifty at foot locker, which
is still crazy.

Speaker 2 (11:34):
Like I get that they're cool and everything, but if
I paid two hundred and fifty dollars for shoes, you
may would be like, we're getting a divorce and and scene.

Speaker 1 (11:47):
So we're gonna break this down, and I thought this
is a pretty good way for Day to go about this.
So hats off to Dave. But we're gonna break this
down because every single use of the word, like in
that dramatic scene that we just portrayed for everyone when
do our TV show got canceled, they all have a use.

They all have a function, and those functions even have names.

Speaker 2 (12:14):
Yeah, it's true, And it's not like they made up
these names for like they said, these these terms, these
different kinds of grammatical usage that that make up a
lot of slang, especially in American spoken English. That's very important.
We're talking almost exclusively here about spoken English. Yeah, that
that like fills some of those those already established compartments.

Speaker 3 (12:38):
All right, So what's first?

Speaker 2 (12:40):
The first is the way that I think most people
who like deride like what they focus on the most,
which is called the quotative, technically a quotative complementizer, Yeah,
which basically what you're saying that you're it sets up
an impression, a paraphrase of what another person had said.

Wood said might say, like like when I said Umi
would be like, we're getting a divorce. I'm not expecting
you to believe in that conversation that Umi told me
that she's going to divorce me if I spend two
hundred and fifty dollars on some air Jordan's, but you
know that the sentiment is generally true, maybe if a

little exaggerated. So what that like is doing right there
is signaling to you in conversation, Hey, I take what
I'm saying with the grain assaut. Here, I'm fudging a
little bit, but I'm still just trying to get a
general point across.

Speaker 1 (13:39):
Yeah, And also Day points out it can also be
used to set up like a mimic or a like
an impression of the speaker. You didn't do it there
because you're respectful for U me right, But another gentleman
might say, you know, my wife would be like where

adding a device or something like that. It is used
a lot of times to set up or like, you know,
let's say it was Sammy Davis Junior, Okay, Sammy would
Sammy would be like, I'm going to file tomorrow.

Speaker 3 (14:15):
For divorce.

Speaker 2 (14:16):
That was lovely. That was love like.

Speaker 1 (14:20):
So the next thing we can talk about is the
approximate adverb usage in this scene. That is when it's
used and this is very very common. This is when
it's used to mean, you know, around pretty much more
or less just about. Like when I said I think
they're like two hundred and fifty dollars at foot locker.

That means, you know, there were two or three hundred
people there. There were like two or three hundred people there.
The bill was like seventy bucks or something. That means
you're rounding up or you're approximating something.

Speaker 2 (14:56):
Yeah, and again in this sense, too like signals to
the listen and they're like, hey, don't fully take what
I'm saying as fact. I'm not trying to be one
hundred percent accurate here, I'm trying to get a general
idea across that this is really expensive. I saw a
paper in the journal Autism and Developmental Language Impairments by

Jones Zaane Engrossman, twenty twenty two, red Hot still off
the presses, and they use this example of saying somebody
saying like, I have like one hundred pair of shoes, right,
you could have forty pairs of shoes. And because you
use the word like, that still gets the point across,
and you're speaking, you're communicating in like a still essentially

an accurate way. What you're saying is I have a
lot of shoes. Now it's actually sixty less than the
number I just threw up, but it doesn't matter because
forty is still a pretty big number. What Alike is
doing here is standing in for approximately, and in this case,
approximately wouldn't work because if you said I have approximately
one hundred shoes and you actually have forty, that number

is so way off that you're essentially either lying or
totally incorrect. Like scuttles all that and says, yeah, hey,
just just go with me here a little bit. I'm
just saying I have a bunch of shoes.

Speaker 1 (16:13):
Yeah, it really covers your bases.

Speaker 2 (16:15):
That's a legitimate function of conversation.

Speaker 1 (16:18):
No, absolutely, I do want to poke Dave here just once,
because one example he used was the movie starts at
like two or three.

Speaker 3 (16:26):
Well, that's the case, very important. You should be pretty specific.

Speaker 1 (16:29):
Dave's always late, all right, what's next? We have the
discourse marker.

Speaker 2 (16:37):
Right, Yeah, this is pretty important too.

Speaker 1 (16:40):
Right, So this is probably something that you didn't know
that it was called this, but we all use discourse
markers all the time. He found another linguist name and Kurzan,
who has this analogy where it's like traffic discourse marker
is like a traffic signal or road sign that helps
you navigate spoken English, and like is very versatile in

this function because it can mean a bunch of different
things as a discourse marker, the first of which, like
you said, it could be exaggeration. In this case of
our scene, I know, these Jordans are like a million dollars.
You know, it's obviously not a million dollars, but it
sets it up as I'm clearly exaggerating.

Speaker 2 (17:26):
It's similar to the pair of shoes thing too, where
if I said I know there are a million dollars,
you'd be like, no, I do not. It's a little high.

Speaker 1 (17:35):
I am from Russia, in Mother Russia.

Speaker 2 (17:39):
Air Jordan's by you in.

Speaker 3 (17:42):
Russia music like you not.

Speaker 1 (17:47):
It can use it can be used as a discourse
marker for emphasis in our scene. Have you seen have
you seen what they're charging for these new air Jordans,
So like just to emphasizes scene, and it just sort
of pumps up that like, hey, it's something outrageous is
about to come your way.

Speaker 2 (18:08):
Yeah. Another one is like let me elaborate. So when
I think I said, like who can afford this stuff,
I'm actually elaborating on a previous sentence about how expensive
they are. So they're really expensive. Let me elaborate who
out there could afford this stuff? That's how expensive they are.

Just adding like right there cuts down on all that
extra fat, trims it like a packer in nineteen oh
six in Chicago.

Speaker 1 (18:38):
Yeah, and you know there are probably people out there
that are saying, Well, you could drop the word like
in a lot of these instances, maybe not the million
dollars when and stuff like that, but you could say
in that sentence, who can afford this stuff? And I
get that, But that doesn't mean that putting like in
is bad necessarily right?

Speaker 2 (18:57):
And who wants to sound like Larry David all the time?
Noboddy Larry David?

Speaker 1 (19:02):
Yeah, I guess what else?

Speaker 3 (19:04):
What's surprise?

Speaker 2 (19:06):
It's funny. It gets across surprise, but you have to
use it in a really unsurprised tone, yea for it
to be effective. So, for example, if if somebody you
would not expect showed up at a party and you went,
she's here, you can kind of get that across, like

like I'm really surprised that she's here, maybe a little
chill that she's here, she should not be here, that
kind of thing. But if you say she's like here,
that really gets it across, gets it across a little better.
And but you have to you can't be like, she's
like here. That doesn't work. You have to tone it
down and do the opposite. And it's then it canvey surprise.

It's fascinating, it's amazing that that this is how we
talk and nobody's writing this stuff down. The linguists are
writing this stuff down from studying what people are doing
in real time and conversation. This is not part of
like the modern language associations like handbook.

Speaker 3 (20:05):
Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1 (20:08):
The last one we're going to talk about is as
a discourse particle. And this is the one. This is
this is the real bad guy as far as like
haters go, don't you think probably?

Speaker 2 (20:21):
Yeah, I think this is I mean, this is the.

Speaker 1 (20:23):
One that that that people will say is clearly just
inserted in there as biller. It is the one that
is infecting our language. Is this discourse particle use?

Speaker 3 (20:35):
And that is.

Speaker 1 (20:38):
I believe the woman who wrote the book, Alexandra Darcy,
she's a linguist, said, I believe a PhD. I'm not mistaken,
said that using it as a discourse particle doesn't doesn't
change the meaning of a sentence necessarily, but it does
set a tone and operates in the interpersonal.

Speaker 2 (20:56):
Realm exactly right. So, for example, if you are talking
about somebody who you just like they've made some bad
life choices or whatever, and you're expressing this to somebody else,
but you don't want to make it sound like you
don't like that person, Like you want to express that

you still like that person, but they've made some bad
life choices and you're a little disappointed in that. You
could say two things. You could say, I love her,
but she's dumb. Right if you like you sound kind
of like a jerk. So what you can do is
use like you can pepper sentences, would like to kind

of pat it. For example, you would say like, I
love her, but she's like dumb. That it gets across
to the listener like, hey, I still care about this person.
I'm not really putting them down. I'm just trying to
get across some stuff that I'm just getting something off
my chest here between you and me.

Speaker 1 (21:57):
Yeah, absolutely, it's sort of It works as a softener
like this example too. If someone asks you to go
do something like hey, Josh, you want to go to
dinner and you said sorry, I'm tired, that's like, oh, well,
Josh clearly doesn't want to have dinner with me. But
if you said sorry, I'm just like really tired, then
that just softens things. Like the interpretation is I would

really love to go to dinner with you. But I'm tired, correct,
and you don't have to say all that other stuff.

Speaker 2 (22:26):
No, No, it's so it's a softener. That's a really
great way to put it. I think that's how John
McCord put it the Linguist. And it also works in
reverse too, because it acts as as shielding, right, you're
shielding the other person's feelings. By adding those likes, you're saying, like,
I don't dislike you. I'm not trying to be mean here,

I just I know you're probably going to be disappointed,
so I want to just kind of get this information
across as gently as possible, and peppering it with likes
does that. But like I said, it works in reverse.
It shields the speaker too. In some cases, it acts
as a hedge to where you are saying, you're giving
yourself plausible deniability. You're not saying I'm one hundred percent

confident in what I'm saying. I'm pretty sure. But because
I'm adding like, it's hedging it so that if I'm wrong,
it's not the end of the world. It's not that
much egg on my face. So if you were asking,
if somebody asked what you were or what you did
for a living and I didn't know I could say
I think like he's a podcaster, or I think he's
like a podcaster. That's like it just hedges it a

little bit, and and yeah, it protects the speaker in
this case rather than protects the receiver. But it's the
same function essentially.

Speaker 3 (23:42):

Speaker 1 (23:42):
I mean we do that all the time when we're
just pulling something off the dum we're not sure about.

Speaker 2 (23:47):
Yeah, but people still email in and tell me how wrong, wrong, wrong?

Speaker 3 (23:51):
I am. Well.

Speaker 1 (23:53):
Alexandria Darcy would say that if you use like as
a discourse particle, then that means that you are emotionally intelligent. Yeah,
that means you have very much an awareness of who
you're speaking to and how your words are being received.
And there have been studies that have shown that when
people hear speech that do not have like or other

discourse particles, that and you know, as another one, you
know that people sound robotic and unfriendly and unnatural, and
that these discourse particles conversationally make people feel at ease.

Speaker 2 (24:28):
It's almost like hard water and the likes are water softeners. Right,
It's the best I can come up with.

Speaker 3 (24:38):
Should we take another break?

Speaker 2 (24:39):

Speaker 3 (24:40):
All right? We will be right back.

Speaker 2 (25:05):
So Chuck. If you ask people, even people use the
word like, like, where did the use of like come from?
When did we start using like in English? Spoke in English?
Most people would give them the chance to think about it,
say Valley Girls. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's Valley Girls.
Valley Girls are Teletubbies one of the two, and you'd

be like, it wasn't Teletubbies. But also it wasn't Valley Girls.
Valley Girls popularized it, but we were using like way before.
But one of the reasons why people think Valley Girls
is in part because of a nineteen eighty two song
by Frank Zappa that introduced Valley Girls to the United States. Like,
they were pretty much confined to the San Fernando Valley

until that Frank Zappa song came along.

Speaker 1 (25:49):
I think, yeah, and this is, you know, part of
greater Los Angeles if you're not familiar. But in eighty
two he put up a song Valley Girl with his
daughter Moon Zappa, and it really, you know, sort of
mocked that way of speaking. The movie Valley Girl was
it was not for the movie. The movie came out
a year later, and that obviously made it even more

popular other movies like Fast Times Origemont High, and then
later in the nineties with Clueless, which brought other terms
that a lot of people hate, like whatever and as if.
But like you said, these things really popularize it. It
didn't invent it. And we know it because there's actual
proof if you go back even just a little while

and look at history of in the nineteen fifties and
nineteen sixties with the beats and the heptalk or jive talk, bebop.
They were saying like crazy and writing it in their books.
It was all over the place.

Speaker 2 (26:49):
Yeah, So Dave gives some examples of bop talk or
jive talk or jazz talk. Crazy was one. We used
that a lot cool the top. That's reminds me of
Meltormet gone as in gone Girl, dig hip. And then
he includes et cetera, which I didn't realize was bop talk.

I thought that was Latin.

Speaker 3 (27:12):
That's funny. You almost got me.

Speaker 1 (27:16):
But they would use the word like a lot, like
you know that cat is like crazy, or you know,
like he is so square, or like I was really grooven.
You know, they used it basically in the exact same way.
Approximate adverbs, discourse markers, and discourse particles, right.

Speaker 3 (27:32):
The same way.

Speaker 1 (27:33):
Valley Girls in the eighties used it in the same
way people of all stripes use it today.

Speaker 2 (27:37):
Yeah, and if you were into jazz at the time,
you were probably somewhat familiar of bop talk. But it
filtered into the Beats, who kind of introduced it to
an even wider audience in the United States. Likes it
pops up here there and on the road from Jack Kerouac.
So we know, at least as far back as the Beats,
and probably before that with jazz musicians in the forties,

like was used in the same slangy way that we
use it now, multiple ways we use it now, but
that the Valley Girls are the ones that seem to
have introduced or at least popularized that the latest version
or use of like, which is that quotative version where

it sets up a paraphrase quote.

Speaker 1 (28:26):
Yeah, And I think they did not find and you know,
they dug around. I believe that Darcy and her book
found uses in England in the nineteenth century where they
would use the word like in several different ways that
we use it now, But that one the what.

Speaker 3 (28:41):
Was it called again?

Speaker 2 (28:43):
What the quotative use.

Speaker 1 (28:45):
Yeah, yeah, the quotative, that's the one that seems to
have really been truly born in the eighties.

Speaker 2 (28:50):
Yeah, and it's probable or possible that Valley Girls did
not make that up, but it became part of valley
girl val speak, along with like gag me with the
spoon and totally tubular.

Speaker 1 (29:02):
And all teenagers talk like that back then.

Speaker 2 (29:05):
Yeah, but apparently ground zero for it was the valley
that That's where it emerged from, at the very least,
that's where people thought that it emerged from. Like kids,
I think it's that kids in Ohio weren't necessarily talking
like that. I know my sisters didn't talk like that
until those movies came out.

Speaker 3 (29:23):
M I heard stuff like that. I think it.

Speaker 1 (29:26):
I think it popularized it, but I think teenagers were
I mean maybe not some of the particular phrases, but
the use of like you know was definitely around before
that movie. Okay, no, no, no, for sure, I mean popularly.

Speaker 2 (29:41):
Right, Okay, but most people point to or were exposed
to it from Valley Girls, not the movie. I'm saying,
like the concept, the social trend Valley.

Speaker 1 (29:53):
Girls, right because of the movie.

Speaker 2 (29:57):
Right, So, that's the one that most people associate with
Valley girls for a reason. They're the ones who popularize it.
But people blame valley girls for the whole use of
like in a lot of ways, and it's kind of
translated since the early eighties into young girls. You don't
have to be valley girls. Like the idea is just
young girls talk like that. They're the ones who use

like all the time if they are infecting the language.
That's what some people think, and that apparently is not
just incorrect. Factually, it's pretty sexists in the way that
Disco Demolition Night riot where people were just going crazy
on disco records in Chicago was homophobic.

Speaker 1 (30:40):
Yeah, and racists, Yeah for sure.

Speaker 3 (30:45):

Speaker 1 (30:45):
I mean, you know, there's a history of that still
goes on today of sort of thinly veiled coded like
it's okay to like, it's not okay to to make
fun of someone because of you know, their age, or
because of their gender identity or their ethnicity or something,

but it's still generally okay to make fun of the
way someone might talk, and that oftentimes is coded in
this case for young women.

Speaker 2 (31:15):
Yeah, because kind of as a rule, the contributions the
intellectual contributions of young women in the United States are
not there's not a huge high emphasis on them. Traditionally
there hasn't been, especially among older men. They're very much
looked down upon. But again, you can't just be like
you're stupid because you're a twenty year old girl. But

you could say like, you sound really immature because you
use like a lot. It's still the same thing. You've
just found a different entree into devaluing that person's contributions
or that group's contributions.

Speaker 1 (31:49):
Well, I mean, you need not look any further than
someone like Greta Thurnberg, you know, use like a lot. No,
I'm just talking about when she first came on the
scene sort of all you heard about was like, oh,
you know this young girl, this young girl.

Speaker 2 (32:04):
She's a rabble rouser.

Speaker 1 (32:05):
I think it's said, you know, generally derisively by a
lot of people, generally older, older men in politics.

Speaker 3 (32:12):
For sure.

Speaker 2 (32:13):
Sure. Yeah, no, that's a great example of it. So
I said, factually, that doesn't make it's not accurate. And
our linguist heroes Darcy and Catherine Kinsler and others have
studied this. They actually do studies to find out who
actually uses like and they found that in general, just

using like, men and women use it with about the
same frequency. But when you dig down a little further,
you drill down into it to get into the real
granular meat of the whole subject, kind of like a
nineteen oh six packer in Chicago with a really sharp
knife and tuberculosis. You find that there are distinctions between

age and gender that the use of like in different ways.

Speaker 3 (33:02):
Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 1 (33:03):
So what they found was for the approximate adverb form
meaning you know, almost or just about, men and women
use it equally, the discourse particle like the softener or
the interpersonal like, men actually use it more frequently than women.
The discourse particle form like what's a good example there.

Speaker 2 (33:29):
The discourse marker would be like emphasis, like have you seen.

Speaker 1 (33:34):
Oh, okay, Yeah, that one. They found that women do
use it more frequently. The big one was the new
kid on the block in the eighties, a quotative complementizer.
It's such a stupid word, it really is. That's the
one that is significantly used more frequently by women than men.

Speaker 2 (33:54):
Yeah. So yeah, And also there's this idea that it's
just young the younger generations that use it in the
younger generations definitely use it more frequently and in more
interesting and diverse ways, but it still filters to other
age groups. And there's apparently Darcy included some quotes from

Brits in their seventies to nineties who were using like
in ways that we recognize as the slang uses of like.

Speaker 3 (34:24):

Speaker 2 (34:24):
One of them says a seventy five year old respondent
said they were just like sitting waiting to die. Can
you do a seventy five year old British woman impression?

Speaker 1 (34:36):
I don't think so, Okay, Yeah, I mean, you know,
clear examples of people of a certain age using the
word like. The one again, the one big exception is
a quotative like, which is supposedly women use or not supposedly.
I guess they found in their study use more than men.
And it's also almost exclusively used by younger people. But again,

younger people are always the ones that are changing language
and thinking up new words and trying out new usages
since the beginning of time.

Speaker 2 (35:10):
Yeah, so there's a larger question that we still haven't
fully answered, and that is, like, do the people who
hate like and say it's infecting the language they have
a point and turns out the answers no, not really,
they have some sort of weird personal vendetta which may
or may not be sexist in nature or agists at

least that if you look at how the word like
is used, it provides all sorts of unique functions that
other words don't necessarily fill. Like Remember I said approximately
would work in some cases, but not in other cases,
like has carved, or we've used like to carve out

or fill voids that no other words had filled before
in spoken English language. And yes, it looks weird on paper,
but we're not talking about on paper. We're talking about
in a conversation. And like is a way people make
sure that you're with them still when they're talking to you,
that you feel included, that your feelings are being acknowledged.

It provides all sorts of really interesting functions it does.

Speaker 1 (36:17):
And in short, it's just the way people talk generally.

Speaker 2 (36:21):
Yes, for sure, all right, Well, if you want to
know more about like, to start listening, and you will
drive yourself mad. And if you don't feel like doing that,
just read some linguistic papers on it. There's some interesting
stuff out there. And since I said that, it's time
for listener man, I'm going to.

Speaker 1 (36:40):
Call this Simpson's Clue.

Speaker 3 (36:43):
Okay board game.

Speaker 1 (36:45):
Hey, guys, just finished to the episode on Clue. I
am so excited to tell you this about the Simpsons
Clue board game. Maybe you sawt in your research, but
it is so on brand for you too. How to
make sure that you're aware of its existence? In the game,
mister Burns is murdered and the characters are March as
Missus Peacock, Homer as mister Green, Lisa as Miss Scarlett,

Bart as Professor Plum, Krusty as Colonel Mustard, and Smithers
as Missus White. Apparently this was later changed. The weapons
included Lisa's saxophone, plutonium, Rod Bart's slingshot, Lisa's necklace, extendo glove,
and a poisoned doughnut. The locations are obviously all around Springfield.

You got Mo's, the Retirement Castle, the Simpson's house, mister
Burns's office, and the Quickie Mart, and of course there
are lots of Easter eggs.

Speaker 3 (37:41):
It's just so perfect.

Speaker 1 (37:42):
As a kid that religiously watched The Simpsons reruns every night,
getting Simpson's Clue was the best birthday present I could
think of, and the only version I have ever had.
Thank you for all the hours of entertainment and third
wheeling to your conversations or I guess fourth wheeling with Jerry.

Speaker 3 (37:58):
I love you, guys. That is from Margaret Nihawk.

Speaker 2 (38:02):
Thanks Margaret, that was a great email. I really feel
the urge to go out and buy.

Speaker 3 (38:06):
The Simpsons Clue totally.

Speaker 2 (38:09):
If you want to subliminally act upon us in some
sort of way that hopefully is helpful, like getting us
to want to buy a really great board game like
Margaret did, you can get in touch with us too,
send us a very nice email to stuff podcast at
iHeartRadio dot com. Stuff you Should Know is a production

of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 1 (38:33):
For more podcasts my heart Radio, visit the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

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