Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We are all Valley Girls now

The NYT this morning has a wonderful example of how the elites have surrendered authority, in a story supposedly demonstrating that Valley Girl talk is actually an early indicator of future language patterns. Girls (or I suppose I should say Young Females) began to raise their voices at the end of their sentences in the 1980s, so now we all do it? (Actually, I don't think so. I heard it much earlier, from my daughter, and I am reasonably sure I heard it in the 1940s from my Young Female classmates.)

Professors study this stuff? Of course they do! Where else would those doctoral theses come from?

And Young Males and eventually old folks pick up these vocal tics? Of course they do!

But my favorite example of the Gray Lady's proofs of the vocal prescience of Young Females is that the much-derided "like" (I'm, like, tired?) is now to be found in Webster's College Dictionary--this newspaper’s reference Bible." Well, of course it is! Sheez (as the children say). About thirty years ago, the dons at Webster's decided that it was no longer their job to dictate good usage, but instead to record the usage that is. It's surprising, indeed, that it took Webster's this long to discover that "like" was used as an intensifier.

Oh, wait. It didn't. My Webster's is copyright 1998, and the last of many exampless of the conjunction "like" is "Often stays up late, until ~ three in the morning." Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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