The 'like' factor

Interacting with different people of my own age here in the university leaves different impressions. And even if you are not interacting, it is difficult not to overhear snippets of conversation between others (especially undergrads) who discuss a lot of things. I find that the word that dominates these conversation is, "Like". A typical conversation snippet is this: "And I was like... totally, like [eyes appropriately squinted, shaking head in disapproval] and then he was like [raised eyebrows] ... and then I was like, OH MY GOD!! [bulging eyes and throwing up arms]". Please interpret the above ...-s to mean a sufficient pause in the conversation.

It used to be unnnerving at first, because the 'like' word can take a thousand different meanings at different times, sort of like the universal pronoun. Most of the time, it means exasperation at something, or when the speaker is at a loss of words to actually convey his/her feelings. But the rampant use of the word in all sentences was really disturbing, because essentially the word is used to draw an analogy, and so you have to guess a lot to express that the meaning of whatever is being conveyed is comprehensible to you. And almost everybody uses it so liberally.

The habit is pretty infectious as well. So much so that at times, when I am the only person uttering full sentences without a liberal dose of 'like', soemthing feels weird. Forget about the accent and other stuff: that gets absorbed over time and you will notice it only after a long long time when a sudden conversation with someone fresh from India will remind you of your own accent being twanged. This 'like' phenomenon is a very inviting stream that seems to fill conversations without having to explicitly or consciously search for the real words when speaking. It is just such an inviting short-cut!

And I am trying to get rid of that habit so earnestly. I rarely hear that word when a professor speaks, or when a senior grad student speaks. They always sort of seem to effortlessly think before they speak. For unfortunate first year grad students like yours truly, however, we tend to shoot first and ask questions later. I suppose the tree that bears fruit actually bends low, and so I need to really really practise eliminating the 'like' word from my conversations and think and respond --- may the force be with me!

Oh, BTW, do check out India's invasion of the Sans Seriffe islands. :)

Update: look at the video of that in action! :D The guy is a friend of a friend :)


  1. I find the use of American slang in the language highly infuriating. I don't know why. Long live Indian English!

    By the way, Sudipta, I succumbed to the temptation of Orkut and I even managed to find a few old friends from school whom I've lost contact with over 10 years. So no more Orkut-bashing from me.

  2. hello! you had left a comment on my UN essay blog, and I like your blog as seem to be an indian student in the US, albeit a greaduate one! why not let's crosslink our blogs

  3. what bothers me most - along the same lines - is "s" ... anyways, laters, sometimes soon ... and i am petrified of picking it up!

  4. I hate "anyways." So many people who should know better use that ugly word.

  5. thanks for reading my post. i've linked your blog on mine!

  6. *in a high pitched squeaky voice with lots of hand gestures* like...i like never got in the habit coz...I graduate business students are like saved from too much of such exposure.

    But gotta say, i mostly find this 'like' thing really amusing :D


  7. imo, using 'like' in every sentence that you utter is a surefire way to completely destroy your vocabulary forever. thankfully, i figured out early on about this utterly dangerous habit of using 'like' to supplement the correct adjective/noun in every thing you speak!!

  8. Hari, Yeah of course, long live Indian (err... British) English! And stuff like 'anyways' are really irritating at times, too!

    BTW, welcome to Orkut! As I'm sure you will find, the same keys open the doors to both heaven and hell.

    Rajarshi, thank you for linking to my blog. I usually don't link to other blogs unless I read them consistently and really like the contents. With some time, I am sure I'll do that for your blog too if I like it.

    Ricercar, yeah that is irritating as well. But it is not so infectious as the 'like' word. Try speaking to 3 people who use this consistently and you'll know.

    Sky, yeah it is amusing as long as you aren't trying to have a serious conversation on some topic. BTW, I do definitely want to see you perform all that squeaky voice and hand gestures live in action! :D

    Life lover, well said! It does play havoc with the active vocab. And kudos to you for actively trying to ward off the evil! :)

  9. and i m like and u know like n oh my gad..:).yes u r right!!

  10. Pallavi, thank you so much for reminding me about the video! I uploaded it later :)

    Supremus, awesome! You have some nice connections, like that link was totally... like :D

  11. Well the post is like great ;)) Actually, it's great.

    I had a friend who always peppered his sentences with 'sort of' everything for him was 'sort of' , never exact!

  12. I picked that horrible habit up in school back in India from a classmate that I used to tease for saying'like' a million times. And horror of horrors it grew on me! I spent many a conscious momnet trying to rid myself of the habit. And its gone for the most part. Except sometimes it has an uncanny way of creeping into conversations and freaking me out.

  13. Deepak, thank you so much :) Everyone has his or her own pet space-filler, I suppose.

    M, hahahah --- I told you, right, it is extremely infectious! :)

  14. Welcome to America !!! :D Its awful americans DO become short of words when xpressin themselves despite d fact english is their native language...guess they quit repeating 'like' in their conversations when they really do become REAL intellects..say after a PhD maybe :D :D-Ms NMA

  15. true dude!
    similarly there are many words which are repeated in Indian accent.. say 'basically, actually, 'ok' etc..' not a good practice at al!
    and 1 more thing, i need a genuine advice from u on sth:
    c, i'm a 2005 passed out Engineering student. going for an MS has always been my dream. but right now its not possible due to several reasons! i thought i'll take up the exam and go for it after 3 yrs from now, say 2010 spring. but ppl advice me to go for an MBA instead, cuz i'll already be having around 5 yrs of work experience and an MS wouldn't help me that well. But MBA would add value to my career.
    Plz tell me your opinion. Thanks in advance!

  16. i plead guilty!! never even realised it! :(( me will make a conscious effort to eliminate it from my vocabulary forever :D who'd have thought ur blog was educational too... :D

  17. Miss NMA, the hidden meaning in your sentence is chosen to be ignored by the present author :)

    Anonymous, it is less of an accent thing and more a cultural thing, I suppose.

    About your question: it is difficult if not impossible for me to give you any sensible advice based on the little information you've provided here. If you are looking at an MS just to increase your paycheck, then yes the MBA would be more sensible after 5 years in the industry. When you wake up from your "passed out" state, see if you actually stick around for the whole 5 years :)

    Di, long time no see (hey that rhymes!!) :)

    And so you're guilty as well!! Ha hahahaa --- gotcha! :D

  18. anon again.. dont get tis "When you wake up from your "passed out" state, see if you actually stick around for the whole 5 years :)"


  19. Anonymous, it was just a joke, which I wouldn't explain. The meaning conveyed was, you can take a much better decision after staying in the industry for 5 years --- it is difficult to say what things will be like after 5 years

  20. 'like' factor!

  21. Anonymous, no probs, buddy --- good luck ahead!


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