I feel something close to anguish when I listen to my 13-year-old daughter stunt her growing storytelling ability by littering her anecdotes with superfluous "likes." I've proposed to her that we work on this problem together. She is, in theory, amenable.
I suggested that we try to work on her eliminating one particular use of "like" that poses a practical communication problem (as opposed to merely a nails-on-the-chalkboard screech in her old man's writing ear).
I proposed that she stop using "like," as used to mean "said." Or is it "thought"? She tells me that when her friend Nora punched her shoulder, "I was like, 'Nora!'" Does that mean she said, "Nora!"? Or does it mean she thought, "Nora!"?
There's no way for me to know. And yet I must know. So I proposed that we begin by her trying, and me reminding her, to say "said," or "thought" instead of “like” in such cases.
She agreed, provided I would promise to limit my reminders to family conversations, and not call her out in front of groups of people (as I have done in the past almost involuntarily).
We had a deal.
That was on Saturday.
On Sunday morning, I’m reading The New York Times, and a story about a German Jew who traveled to America to save his family from the Nazis in World War II contained this graph:
“He was like: ‘I’m your lost, rich relative. I won’t be a burden.’ But he had no money. He played it,” Ms. Siegler said. He secured a signature, then returned to collect his family, but was stopped trying to enter Nazi Germany by a suspicious border guard. Knowing the Germans were big fans of the 1934 Clark Gable hit, “It Happened One Night,” Mr. Schulback told the guard he was the distributor for Mr. Gable’s new movie. He claimed that if he couldn’t enter the country, neither would the film. “The guy was like, ‘Oh, we love Clark Gable,’ and waved him through,” Ms. Siegler said.
And I was like, should such quotes really appear in The New York Times? Are reporters’ ears changing? Are editors'?