I’m referring to a deplorable trend in American slang whereby the verb “to say” becomes supplanted by the verb “to be like” – unfortunately, this patois lingo is frequently accompanied with the equally inane “to be all”. In the worst scenario, both monstrosities are fused into the egregious “to be all like”.
Witness the asininity of a conversation peppered with such phrases:
“I’m like, ‘Woot woot!’, and you were all like, ‘Can I get a PWNZ YOU?'”
“And then Mr. Cumming’s like, ‘In the year 1337, four-fingered archers flipped the birds.’ Connie was all, ‘EW! MUTANTS!'”
As you can see, the verb “to be like” has no semblance whatsoever of its intended meaning. In effect, the speaker has failed to carry out his purpose, i.e. quoting someone, be it himself or another. He has instead compared himself (or others, should he use the second or third person) to the words he utters.
He invokes simile when he uses “to be like” (I was like, “That’s soooo stupid.”, in which he denigrates his mental abilities), and metaphor when he employs “to be all” (he’s all, “I need a hug!”, in which he characterises someone whose sole purpose is to be embraced).
These verbal constructs are devoid of sense, logic, and purpose; they would be completely incomprehensible to a non-English speaker, who would best understand foreign words literally, not figuratively. As such, it is vital, for the sake of those who wish to learn the true English language, that this linguistic abomination be exterminated with extreme prejudice.
I thus propose as a solution the establishment of an Academy of the English Language. Its sole goal would be to root out any and all idioms such as that exemplified in this post. The motive for this is quite simple: idioms and idiocy have a connection that goes beyond pronunciation.
In conclusion, I wish to clarify the relevance of the topic title. Britons, Irish(wo)men, Aussies, Kiwis, Canucks, and all other non-Americans, I ask, “Has the “verb” “to be like” invaded your town, city, region, and/or country?” Yes, I would say it has. In a grammatically correct way; and only for a few years (this was posted in 2003). Also, thank you for using the term ‘Britons’.
I agree that the use of language is appalling. The term is, though, grammatically correct. Unfortunately, the majority of those who use it do not know how or why. I shall explain.Sam was like, “I’m totally up for it!” and Joe was like, “Yeh, me too!”.
‘Like’ being used to say ‘similar to’ which HAS to be followed by some form of description; whether simile, metaphor OR impersonation. So, you could add/change words:Sam was [saying something] like, “I’m totally up for it!” and Joe [sounded] like, “Yeh, me too!”
This could also be for ‘behaved like’ etc. All have to be past tense as you are recalling a previous event, so ‘was’ is a perfect substitute.
Technically; ‘Sam was like, “I’m totally up for it!”‘ is correct, but only as long as the correct pause is used between ‘like’ and the quote. This also means that it does not have to be an exact replication of what the person said (if using in the ‘was saying something like’ way). However, saying ‘“… I’m like…”‘ is NOT correct as it means ‘and I am like’ which is present tense UNLESS it follows, for example, ‘“She was like, ‘Hi’, so I’m like ‘Hey’.”‘ in showing a comparison between the two pieces of speech.
Of course, the people use it but, the people don’t understand it.