This post is one in a series about The Negative Canon.
Stan Carey says it all here.
Filed under The Negative Canon
Tagged as quotative 'like', Sentence First, Stan Carey
On the other hand, so does Catherine Tate (Warning – contains the F-word at the end) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fGZtrBeDcQ
Indeed. Pity she doesn’t seem to be doing much these days.
I’m too old for quotative like but certainly use what I would call filler like, what I think they’re calling discourse like at Sentence First, although I hope in relative moderation. This is a lot older than some people seem to think; I remember studiously learning to use it in my hippy days, then just as studiously trying to ‘unlearn’ it later.
But it goes back earlier than that: fairly recently I heard it on a recording of Beyond Our Ken from December 1961 – ‘You mean like what’s my name’, together with other jive talk expressions such as ‘hepcat’ and ‘ way out man’.
Older even than that. The OED’s 7th definition of ‘like’ is:
‘Used parenthetically to qualify a preceding statement: = ‘as it were’, ‘so to speak’.
It prefaces that definition with ‘dialect and vulgar’, and follows it with ‘also, colloquial (orig. U.S.), as a meaningless interjection or expletive.’
The earliest supporting citation is from Fanny Burney’s ‘’Evelina’, published in 1778:
‘Father grew quite uneasy, like, for fear of his Lordship’s taking offence.’
There’s also this rather appealing citation from 1966:
‘As we say pragmatically in Huddersfield, “C’est la vie, like!” ‘
Ah, I was subconsciously differentiating between what could be called ‘pre-filler’ like and ‘post-filler’ like, and was thinking only of the former:
prefiller like – probably from 1950s jive talk
– There were like a dozen people there.
– I was just like watching the TV when …
postfiller like – I would think of as especially associated with Northern dialect and certainly a lot older
– There were a dozen people there, like .
– I was just watching the TV, like, when …
Yes, there is a difference, and postfiller ‘like’ may be particularly, but not exclusively, northern.
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