Yeah, “what” indeed? This increasingly ubiquitous phrase has to be my top current nominee for language eradication proceedings (with extreme prejudice). Is it possible to take anyone who speaks like this seriously? (OK, that’s rhetorical.)
The word ‘like’ seemed to have the origins of its current heavy usage among the Valley Girl set (with maybe a smattering of Britney-speak). It became a punctuation mark in the stuttering and vacuous reportage of tweeners with little more between their ears than an incessant hip-hop beat.
Sadly, the….like…. point started to find it’s way into the usage of a wider group. I’ve heard a number of speakers who (otherwise) sound as if they’ve had the benefit of some higher education, intentionally or otherwise, make it a staple of their conversational style.
Yesterday, I saw two television ads in which the compound “I was….like….what?” monstrosity appeared, spoken by adults who appeared to have functional intelligence. So, now it’s morphed into an even more hideous usage, endorsed by ad copy writers.
What’s being said here? Is this a verbal screen play? Is the listener supposed to interpret how they’d feel in the same circumstances? Wouldn’t it be simpler to say “I was surprised…shocked…amazed”, etc?
Yes, language evolves and changes. Yes, it’s often in a helpful direction. But I dare anyone to make a case for this as a useful direction for expression to take. Lazy. Slothful. Abysmally non-expressive. Would you encourage anyone you know to try to make a positive impression by talking like this?