Friday, May 06, 2005

In Defense of Valley Girls

For many long years, I, like many people with an academic bent, despised the wanton misuse of similes. I have since changed my mind, due to acting. In "Finding Nemo," for example, the sea turtle says this line: "First you were like woah, then we were like WOAH!, then you were like woooah." Except he doesn't just say it, he acts it. In this line he repeats not only the verbal message, but also the emotional and nonverbal content that accompanied it. Since perfectly replicating emotion and nonverbal communication is almost impossible, his portrayal is only "like" the original. Thus, in oral communication, if the speaker is portraying emotion and nonverbals, the use of the word "like" as a simile is justified. I will still, however, flog anyone who uses it in non-dialogue writing. Unless, of course, they're John McWhorter in his eminently readable book, The Degredation of Language and Music: and why we should, like, care.

3 Comments:

Blogger Noumenon said...

But Valley Girls aren't using "like" to make similes. It's being used as a verbal particle, like "er," "um," or "you know." I wonder if it will ever become dated, because then it will sound really funny to normal English speakers.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Hamlette said...

Duuuuuuuuuuuuude!

3:50 PM  
Blogger Noumenon said...

Sweet!

2:15 PM  

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