The word “like” has invaded our speaking the same way the kudzu has invaded the South. Just listen in on anyone’s conversation on the subway, especially if they’re under 30, and you’ll see what I mean. Just as kudzu does, it wends its way in to the sentence until it blankets it and the original meaning is practically lost. “It’s, like, the best movie I’ve, like, seen, like in a long time. You should go see it, it’ll, like, y’know, blow your mind.”
This has recently come to my attention in a more forceful way than before because a friend has asked me to let him know when he is using “like,” “y’know,” “uh,” and other “nonwords” so that he can improve his speaking skills. I decided to take on the same challenge. The list of nonwords and its close cousin, filler words, has proven to be never ending. We’ve since expanded our radar to include “Ok, so,” “know what I mean?” and “does that make sense?”It has become so common place that we become nearly unconscious to it. We often have to ask each other when the offending word even was.