There are certain social oddities that have been around for a while. One of them is the prevalent use of certain phrases, often with ridiculous frequency. For the last few years, many friends and I noticed and commented on it. Just a few days ago, Kay and I were at the local Panera Bread listening to a lady (early 20’s) talk to someone and use “like” in every sentence. Watching episodes of COPS from the very early 90’s reminded me this trend went way back, just with different social/racial circles. Add in a dash of booze and strong desire to procrastinate work, and time to write about it.
Many many years ago, it was using words like “man” at the end of each sentence. “man” in the context of looking for understanding and empathy. This one episode of COPS had a suspect that was a perfect example. Here is his dialogue, and only his dialogue, as said to a police officer asking him about a physical confrontation:
– they shouldn’t be jumping me man, im with my baby’s mother man
– im gonna get sent up for two and a half years right?
– already gave me a chance man
– yah man!
– come on man, ya’ll want me to go away right?
– do you see me around here no more? i dont be around here, i was walking home with my baby’s mother man
– they jumped me man
– i dont mess with nobody around here man, i dont wanna play around man, i walk to my house man
– [mumble] crying man
– im walking around man, they were like ‘wassup’, im like ‘nothing man‘, they comin up pushing me man, im telling them leave me alone man,
– yeah man, he punched me in my face, im like man i dont care about none of you no more
cause im saying i dont care about them no more man, they say ‘what’, ‘oh you aint down no more?’ im like no man, my own boys man
– and that hurts man, thats why i stabbed him man
Many years ago, I noticed that a lot of rappers and other (mostly) black males on TV (celebrity or COPS, and i hate to stereotype but it’s true) would frequently say “you know what i’m saying?“. I wish I could find and quote one interview with a rapper from a few years back, who ended every single sentence with “you know what i’m saying?“, even if the sentence was three words.
Jump to the present, and the stereotypical ditzy girls who use ‘like’ too often. It’s isn’t just ditzy girls, even many professionals regardless of gender in the workplace have started using it, possibly due to ‘celebrity’ influence. If you listen carefully and try to observe the speech patterns, you will notice they use ‘like’ almost every sentence, sometimes several times. For the more extreme, you literally hear them interject ‘like’ two or three times a sentence, every single sentence.
Twenty years, the social/racial circles and wording change.. the pattern does not.