If I asked T1 to title this post, that might be how he would write it out. Last week my four-year-old came home from preschool sounding about a decade older than he really is, introducing every other sentence with “like.”
We saw this a few months ago with even. “Even I had a nightmare last night.” “Even T2 wants the milk.” “Even I drew this for you at school.” I used my default approach for these little quirks and didn’t draw attention to it, hoping it would go away. The even overuse seems to be something he’s moving past, but the introduction of like makes me nervous because it’s so pervasive throughout our culture. We, his parents, use it all the time ourselves, though not as often as I think the generation below us does (how much worse is it going to get for those who will be in college in 20 years?). It is hard for me to describe an experience I had with Person A to Person B without peppering my speech with “I was like” and “She was like” and “It was like, the best thing ever.”
My understanding is that there are two basic schools of thought when it comes to linguistics:
- There are rules, and the only correct way to speak and write is to obey the rules.
- Language is a product of the environment it is spoken in. Dialects and linguistic trends become valid over time as they are regularly reproduced in everyday use.
If the second description is true, then I don’t need to worry so much about T1′s new habit. The old guard will fight against it, kids will be marked down for using it in their speeches in class, and eventually it will become a generally acceptable practice. He will need to learn boundaries and try to curb it enough to match societies expectations in order to achieve his personal goals, but I don’t need to assume this is going to hold him back in a permanent way.
If it’s the first description then… what do I do? Like, what are the other parents out there doing?