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'Like' Is, Like, Not Going Anywhere... Um, OK?

Yes, it's an annoying verbal tic—but it can also be useful
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2010 1:02 PM CST
'Like' Is, Like, Not Going Anywhere... Um, OK?
"Like" is the official word of the valley girl.   (©jurvetson)

(Newser) – “Like” is, like, the biggest filler word since, um, “you know,” and it, basically, gets on Christopher Hitchens’ nerves. But though “it’s true that in some cases the term has become simultaneously a crutch and a tic, driving out the rest of the vocabulary as candy expels vegetables,” it wasn’t always so—and, believe it or not, in a modified form it can actually be useful, he writes in Vanity Fair.

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Unlike other filler words, “like” has had several “awesome” moments in its history—its appearance in A Clockwork Orange, for one—and even celebrated author Ian McEwan thinks it can be “very handy for spinning out a mere anecdote into a playlet that’s full of parody and speculation.” (Or, Hitchens adds, hyperbole.) The trick is to “prune and ration” your use of the word—while realizing “that it can’t be expelled altogether.”
(Read more slang stories.)

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