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Strictly Speaking

Like: The Universal Interjection

I’M LIKE (+ e.g. ‘How can you say that?’)

Here’s a commonly occurring fragment of tribal noise that has added a socially obligatory but linguistically cumbersome predecessor to so many communications that could easily and elegantly do without it.

The traditional linguistic form that it seems to pursue is a simile, a comparison using the words “like” or “as.” In, “When I’m with my bong pipe I’m like an eagle, flying high.” But in the too commonly overheard intro, the expression simply provides an opportunity for the interjection of the word “like” that, on examination, might provide a useful a silence, a time for brief reflection before speaking.

But these days when a speaker pauses, it merely provides an opportunity for someone else to interrupt. And so the articulation of the useless “like” reserves the permission to continue once the slow-moving mind has stumbled onto something more useful for addressing its needs.

The process of converging nearer to the answer with each iteration is known in mathematics and successive approximations. A better indicator of both analytical thinking and power of expression is to get it right the first time. Le mot juste, as it were.

As contemporary speech is almost entirely free of similes, unless the word “like” is used as a verb, it is almost always a needless interjection, a junk word. An example, par excellence, sine qua non, ne plus ultra of tribal noise. People use it because it is in common use, without fear that they, themselves, become more common by using it. The economy in using like is that it never requires thinking before speaking, of lining up the words most suited to expression in the most elegant form before the first sound comes from your lips.

Alternatively, instead of blurting, “I’m like ‘how you say that?’” in confidence, to a third party, better by far, more direct and economical, is “I’m still baffled how he could say that.” Another corrosion to thoughtful speech that is stimulated by what I call yabber.

Yabber is a neologism invoked to describe a response that fails to stimulate true thinking, but serves both to express an apparent agreement and, worse, to encourage a predictable descent into tribal noise.  Read More 
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Hopefully, A Guide to Useage


As currently used to open a sentence, hopefully fails utterly in communication not only because it assumes that the listener has the same hopes as the speaker, but because, in a complex world where opposition may occur, an adverb should be directly associated with a verb, coming either before or after it

So one may say “She trained hopefully,” in that hopefully describes her training, not, as often now, after the pronoun I (Hopefully, I). And yes, training can be other than hopeful, in that hope may not characterize the process of training. It may better or more accurately be motivated by revenge, ambition, envy, a quest for recognition or equality, a feeling of responsibility to teammates, the nation, or even an appetite for pain.

Hopefully has become an introductory conversational noise intended to disarm criticism and to enlist support and understanding, rather than to provide a convincing launching pad for effective arguments.

Strange as it may seem, hopefully does not necessarily imply benevolence or a hopeful outcome for all. Hitler hopefully attacked Russia, betting that he could overrun Moscow before winter. Certainly he hoped this, and certainly he attacked with this hope, but neither his hopes nor the associated actions left any hope whatever for the poor Russians, who had misguidedly signed a nonaggression pact with Germany not a year earlier.  Read More 
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