It’s annoying, like
Many years ago when I was in my 20s I suddenly realised that I had acquired a verbal tick that led to me add the word ‘actually’ somewhere in almost every sentence. ‘Actually, I had lunch at 1 o’clock today.’ ‘These are my views, actually.’ Once I had become aware of it I made every effort to suppress this annoying habit, and actually, I believe I succeeded. But I also became more aware of everyone else’s habits. A friend of mind who added ‘at the end of the day’ to every statement that was supposed to sound a little more profound; another who could not get through a sentence without saying ‘if you like’; another whose every sentence had to begin or end with ‘basically’; that sort of thing.
Back then, if you lived in Ireland you would constantly hear people sprinkling the word ‘like’ all over their sentences, in a completely meaningless way. I don’t know whether it was always so, but I have started to notice that young people in particular are doing this all over the English speaking world now. Recently I was in the presence of a multinational group of students, and they were all at it. No, they were all at it, like. It was, like, an annoying part of everything they said, like.
Does it matter? Probably not. Of course I didn’t say anything to them. I just wonder whether there is some connection between this and lower levels of literary awareness, or a trend towards a less rich language. It’s not that I don’t like slang, just that this particular habit makes the speaker seem strangely inarticulate.
Maybe, at the end of the day, I’m just too much of an annoying pedant. I mean, like.