Childrearing

Breaking: Girls’ Use Of ‘Like’ Actually Doesn’t Make Them Ditsy Shopping-Addicted Airheads

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slangParents everywhere may harbor disdain about their daughter’s incessant use of the world “like” or even finishing sentences in the upward tone of a question. But aside from your insistence that this makes her sound uneducated, or perhaps just like a Kardashian, she is actually participating in shaping verbal language trends. So even if you don’t like the way that particular “like” sounds punctuating her request for the remote control, chances are that you’ll soon be mimicking her.

The New York Times reports that young women, particularly teenage girls, are at the forefront of “pioneering vocal trends and popular slang,” using intonation and cadence in pretty complex ways. The publication shares that young girls are pretty sensitive to shifts in language anyway, but that their adoption of certain words and distinct ways of speaking actually reveals how closely tuned in they are to the subtleties of language.

Yet, even though the common attribution to young ladies who throw around filler words is that they’re stupid, linguists are now saying that girls may use these words to convey authority and emphasis:

“Like” and uptalk often go hand in hand. Several studies have shown that uptalk can be used for any number of purposes, even to dominate a listener. In 1991, Cynthia McLemore, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, found that senior members of a Texas sorority used uptalk to make junior members feel obligated to carry out new tasks. (“We have a rush event this Thursday? And everyone needs to be there?”)

So as annoying as that recurring “like” may sound to the parental ear, she may actually be asserting her power in an otherwise acceptable “girly” tone of voice. Now, why she feels she can only assert herself or her argument in a demure tone presents further questions as to how girls are raised. But if she is manipulating that language to make her point known, I say let the “like” persist.

(photo: cosmopolitan.com)