People have their own preferences on topics such as foods, clothes, games and words. Just as they have these preferences, people also have words they always use when they talk, such as a “catchphrase” or “signature phrase.” Today, young Americans use the word “like” many times when they are trying to describe something or express their feelings. I guess you could say “like” is their catchphrase.
Maybe it’s a phenomenon, and picking up phrases or changing slang happens randomly. From my perspective, I don’t think it is completely random. In other words, there must be something specific that makes people change the way they talk so significantly.
I have been studying in the U.S. for almost five years now, and I have experienced the rise in popularity of a catchphrase twice. The first word that I noticed catching on is the word “literally.” When I was a student at Ohio University, I was very naive at that time. I didn’t have much social interaction, and I was oblivious to what was happening around me. One day, while I was walking through campus, students were talking to each other and emphasizing the word “literally.” For instance, they were saying that they literally didn’t understand what another person talked about. I guessed this word came from a movie, but I was not sure.
The other word is “like.” Typically, “like” is a good word to show examples, or to share your feelings on things you like or dislike. However, for the past two years, classmates around me answer questions and express their feelings with numerous “likes” in one statement. For example, someone may say “I was, like, so upset when she said that.” Recently, I started counting how many times people use the word “like” in a sentence or when answering a question. I did it for fun, but I did realize that this has become a serious problem in the American language.
I think that using “like” many times in a sentence just shows a lot of hesitation and uncertainty. Because when you say “like,” it makes it seem like you are afraid of telling people what you really think, which shows your lack of confidence.
Growing up is a difficult process, and teenagers often don’t have much confidence when they are young. However, in the business world, people are required to have confidence and accuracy in their work. When you talk to your employers with uncertainty, they will get confused and frustrated. To show our confidence and knowledge in topics we understand, we should pay more attention to the details of our lives. Then after gaining more knowledge about different subjects, we will be able to control the accuracy of our lives.
Catchphrases are all well and good, but for people like me, who come from another country and speak another language, learning English is that much more difficult when you say “like” every five seconds.