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June 15, 2006

So I'm, like, . . . .

I have the pleasure of working in an office in which my colleagues are highly credentialed, well educated, and intelligent lawyers. But I once heard a colleague telling a story in which she said, "So I'm, like, hel-LO!" I've heard this form of "like" from younger people, but my colleague was around 40 at the time. And it surprised me to hear her speaking like that.

With my kids, all bets are off. They don't abuse this form of "like" -- the verbal semi-quotation mark -- but they sometimes abuse the other form of "like" -- the placeholder. "My friend came over, and we were, like, sitting around and he had this, like, expensive watch." There are many ways to deal with this. In our family, for example, my 14-year-old son imitates his older siblings whenever they use "like" -- and that's, like, pretty effective.

Eugene Volokh raises the question today what is to be done with law students who use such locutions in class, and he provokes an interesting discussion in the comments.

I admit, I have my own tics, but yours are really annoying, so please stop it right now. And, by the way, if I ever say, "So I'm, like, hel-LO!" -- you have my permission to shoot me.