Learning to Love Like
Carrie Gillon: Hi, welcome to the Vocal Fries podcast. The podcast about linguistic discrimination.
Megan Figueroa: I’m Megan Figueroa
Carrie Gillon: and I’m Carrie Gillon. And today’s episode is very exciting. We hear from Alex D’Arcy: all about like.
Megan Figueroa: Yes, and, we have included a poem by Melissa Lozada-Oliva, who is a spoken word poet, and her poem is called “like totally whatever.” And it’s the perfect addition to our interview with Alex. So, I’m really excited. You should check the, the- Melissa out. She is amazing. I think everyone will love the poem. So, there’s a lot of exciting things about today’s episode, I’m just really excited for everyone to hear.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah. And she, and she, uh, let us use this whole poem, her whole poem. So, thank you so much Melissa.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. If she’s hearing this, yeah.
Carrie Gillon: I mean, we should thank her even if she’s not.
Megan Figueroa: That’s true. Yes. That’s true. Put that energy out into the universe.
Carrie Gillon: And so, a little bit of housekeeping before we begin: we were invited to join as a featured podcast for, with, uh, the Podern Love Convention in New Orleans in August. So, this will be our first ever podcast convention that we’ve been to, at least that I’ve been to.
Megan Figueroa: I haven’t been to a podcast conference
Carrie Gillon: I have been kind of curious, but, yeah, I never went, so this should be fun.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. And we get to go to New Orleans, so that’s fun.
Carrie Gillon: Yes. For a second time, which will be a little less crazy than our first time.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah. Bourbon Street was too enticing last time. Speaking of podcasts. So, I spent a lot of time at a coffee shop and one of the dudes that works there, I don’t know if this is his way of hitting on me, but I was listening to something he’s like, “what are you always listening to when you come in here?” and I was like “a podcast,” and he’s like, “oh, so you’re a nerd.” Okay, listen-
Carrie Gillon: I didn’t know podcasts made you more nerdy than anything else.
Megan Figueroa: I was like, “I’m absolutely a nerd, but it has nothing to do with me listening to this podcast right now.”
Carrie Gillon: I mean, maybe depending on the nature of the podcast, there are certainly very nerdy podcasts-
Megan Figueroa: I mean, it was My Favorite Murder.
Carrie Gillon: including ours.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Ours is very nerdy, but I was listening to murder podcasts, you know, which I think is pretty mainstream these days. You don’t have to be a nerd.
Carrie Gillon: You definitely don’t have to be a nerd, no. There’s sort of a nerdy aspect to it though, depending on why you’re listening. So, you know, if like you’re really interested in the details and figuring out whether the person that’s been convicted is actually guilty, you can really go down a rabbit hole and I kind of feel like that makes you more nerdy. I tend to not be quite like that because there’s just too many details to keep in my head. Well, I’m nerdy in other ways though, but if you’re listening more for, I dunno, the storytelling or other aspects, I think it’s not quite as nerdy
Megan Figueroa: or the comedy, if it’s My Favorite Murder.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah.
Megan Figueroa: So, yeah. I don’t know if that’s, how do you hit on people now, but that was so-
Carrie Gillon: he was negging.
Megan Figueroa: Totally. He was negging.
Carrie Gillon: So yes, he was hitting on you in the worst possible way.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. And then he also was like,” how are you always here? Don’t you have a job?” And I was like, “oh, I’m sorry. I just finished my PhD.”
Carrie Gillon: Yeah. Also, some people work in coffee shops.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah, exactly. I mean, yeah. Yeah. My, uh, telling people I have a PhD is not something that, I just throw out at people unless they’re negging me or
Carrie Gillon: yeah. Unless it needs to come out. Yes.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah.
Carrie Gillon: So, yeah. You wanted to talk about Mr. Uh, racist lawyer in New York.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I just, I have a feeling everyone’s seen this, at least if you haven’t seen like the- I actually didn’t listen to the clip of him being an asshole because I don’t need that.
Carrie Gillon: Oh, excuse me, THE clip?
Megan Figueroa: Is there multiple?
Carrie Gillon: Rhere are multiple clips of him being an asshole.
Megan Figueroa: but that the one in
Carrie Gillon: the original one or the one that got people talking.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. The one in the restaurant where he says that he’s going to call ICE on these Latinos working in the restaurant. So, I didn’t listen to any of the clips.
Carrie Gillon: You should actually, it’s an interesting case of him for just being- so first of all, he gets upset that they’re speaking Spanish, goes on a rant about that. Uh, they, they kind of laugh at him and like tell him to stop being an asshole. Not so not in those words, but, you know, and then he said, he gets madder and then he says, “okay, I’m going to call ICE.” And they are, they’re like, “okay, call ICE.” Because obviously if they’re working there, they probably have a work permit, at the very least, if not being citizens.
Megan Figueroa: Right.
Carrie Gillon: So, they laugh and he realizes that’s not going to work because they weren’t scared. He starts throwing like fat shit at them. Like “stop eating that, you shouldn’t eat that sandwich.” Cause it’s like so horrible in all these different ways, but it was also kind of like, yeah, you’re telling on yourself, like, look at you, look at who you are
Megan Figueroa: like this. I think I just wanted to like talk about it because it’s overt linguistic discrimination, right. So, this is the example of what we’re talking about. Don’t be an asshole. This guy is beyond that, but the worst part about it or not, you know, this is unsurprising to me. He speaks Spanish himself.
Carrie Gillon: supposedly anyway, claims to on his website.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. But that’s just. Okay. So, if you speak the language, then you know, it’s about the person, you know, it’s a proxy for something else, like, like what we’re trying to say in this podcast, right. So, it’s just so overt. So disgusting.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah. And so, it also kind of plays into this idea that when we say you’re judging someone for the way that they speak, you’re actually judging the person, like you said, but like, so in this case, it’s, I’m judging you for speaking Spanish because I think Spanish speakers, maybe native Spanish speakers are all immigrants and all therefore illegal immigrants, quote unquote.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah.
Carrie Gillon: And then this, something similar happened to us on Twitter where a guy said something overtly sexist. I called him out on it. And then what did he do? He behaved so horribly to us, especially to me, but yeah, like, so he doubled down on his misogyny. So, this guy doubled down on his racism. And yeah. So yeah, that’s what, that’s what they do.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah. Only-
Carrie Gillon: this is why you need to treat linguistic discrimination more seriously because it is telling you who they are as a person.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah, exactly. No, it’s serious stuff. And it just shows everyone how important we are. Just kidding.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah, uuuummmm.
Megan Figueroa: No, I think, uh, I started a poll on Twitter asking what linguistic discrimination is, and then three choices of: basically it’s the worst, it’s terrible, whatever. And everyone agreed. It’s the worst. So, I think that our listeners know
Carrie Gillon: to be fair, you did not put an option in there where it’s not the worst. So, it was not exactly-
Megan Figueroa: I mean, I put one where I said it’s like really uncool. So that’s like a level down, not the worst
Carrie Gillon: just not a scientific poll is all I’m saying
Megan Figueroa: no, I never claimed to be a scientist. Just kidding.
Carrie Gillon: So hopefully you’ll enjoy listening to all the many likes.
Megan Figueroa: yes. And enjoy the beautiful, amazing poem at the end.
Carrie Gillon: So, our guest today is Dr. Alex D’Arcy from the University of Victoria. She’s an Associate Professor and the Director of the Sociolinguistics Research Lab in the Department of Linguistics. She studies language variation and change, linguistic heterogeneity and varieties of English. And also, I saw on one of your websites that your goal is to teach your students about language ideology. So, welcome Alex.
Alex D’Arcy: Thanks very much. It’s fun to be here.
Carrie Gillon: I love that, because obviously that’s what we’re trying to do too. Yeah. Teach everybody. Hey, there’s an ideology behind what we’re doing.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah.
Carrie Gillon: Oh. And also, uh, Alex wrote a whole book on “like.”
Megan Figueroa: Yes. And, and there’s so many amazing things that we could talk to you about, but we are having you here to talk about “like” our, all of our favorite word
Alex D’Arcy: everybody’s yeah. Or favorite words.
Carrie Gillon: Yes, actually technically yeah.
Megan Figueroa: Favorite words. Yes. We’ll get into that. Of course, we’re so lucky to have you here. And it was kind of prompted by this amazing thing that happened. I don’t know. I would say that this would be the most amazing thing that happened to me in my life. An answer or a question. I always forget how that works: an answer or a question on Jeopardy.
Alex D’Arcy: I know I was a clue which-
Megan Figueroa: clue
Alex D’Arcy: is bonkers, because if you, uh, if you think about all of your life’s goals and dreams, being a clue on Jeopardy is so far in left field, that it doesn’t even make the list.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah.
Megan Figueroa: Right.
Carrie Gillon: it does now.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s weird and wonderful and funny and bizarre. And I think about one in a million, right? It’s just, they clearly have researchers who are looking for obscure publications.
Carrie Gillon: Maybe also a linguist I’m wondering.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Could be, I mean, they had, it was in a linguistics category, right. And what are the chances of that?
Carrie Gillon: Right. So, I think they have a linguist on there now.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah.
Carrie Gillon: That’s my guess.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Do you put that on a CV, on a re- you just enjoy it?
Alex D’Arcy: It’s awesome water cooler talk. It’s kind of fun. It’s what everybody opens with when they see me on campus right now. So that’s kind of fun and, uh, yeah, it’s on my CV and it’s there because actually it was the Associate Vice President of Research Operations who said to me it better be on your CV and it better be on your end of year report because it’s knowledge mobilization and outreach.
Carrie Gillon: that’s true.
Alex D’Arcy: So I thought: I’m going for it.
Megan Figueroa: I love it
Carrie Gillon: As you should, as you should
Megan Figueroa: you’d be so good now at two truths and a lie. It’s like the lie would have to be so out there.
Alex D’Arcy: it would have to be outrageous. I know.
Megan Figueroa: Carrie, what is, you have the clue right there. Right? Just read it for the listeners.
Carrie Gillon: Alexandra D’Arcy wrote a book on this word, as in “I’m, like, totally mad because Kim was all like, ‘why can’t I date Kevin?'”
Alex D’Arcy: I like how you had to perform it. See, but that was the thing. The question was such a setup and this is why I just find it funny. Because I can have no ego in this. Because to answer that question, you didn’t have to know me and you didn’t have to know the book. There was so much context in the question. And even Alex, who tries to be very sort of monotone and uninvested when he asked the questions, even he was getting a bit of the performativity going. So, Kim and Kevin? Which I mean-
Megan Figueroa: that’s a good point.
Alex D’Arcy: those names are just associated with certain kinds of personas anyway.
Carrie Gillon: It’s true
Alex D’Arcy: right. So yeah, I can’t be smug about it. I just think they have a good researcher who thought this would be a fun question. And there you go. And I didn’t know. And I was sitting in my office working away, as one does, and all of a sudden, my phone started buzzing because my Twitter feed was going off and then my Facebook feed started going off and that’s how I found out.
Carrie Gillon: That’s awesome.
Alex D’Arcy: What are the chances.
Carrie Gillon: Exactly.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, but it did lead to an awesome case. I would say the most epic case of mansplaining I’ve seen in a while, because of course UVic picked it up and it, it hit the, it hit the various UVic media platforms. And all of a sudden, I get an email. I can’t even remember what the title was. And there’s so many things in this that fit into so many tropes. So first off, it’s a man, of course, it’s a white man. Then of course, it’s an old man. Because he tells me that he’s a retired professor here at UVic. I won’t give you a department. And then he starts his email by saying, “I didn’t know there was a whole book devoted to ‘like’, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by that. I haven’t read your book, but,” and then he proceeds to tell me about how you can tell if something is meaningless noise, as though this is a real linguistic methodology and then proceeds to give me some example sentences with “like” in them and spells out- it’s a very long email and he tells me what the speaker intended to say. But what the speaker actually said by using “like” in those ways. It was a genius email, and then it finishes, there’s this little sort of off the cuff “I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that.” And then he signs off and the best part too, was that he spelled my name wrong the whole way through.
Carrie Gillon: wow. That’s perfect. Like it’s almost, it almost feels fake because it’s just too, it hits all the notes, like you said. It’s oh, wow.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, no, actually I do have to tell you his department: he’s a physicist.
Carrie Gillon: Of course he is. I was going to guess that. I have an opinion about physicists that they’re the most arrogant about other fields.
Alex D’Arcy: Well, it’s, it’s a meme for a reason. Anyways, I haven’t responded to the email because I’m not too sure if it’s worth my time and I’m really trying, I don’t want to be snippy, but what’s so infuriating about it is that it’s written in this really as all mansplaining is in this super conversational, let’s just chit chat, but he ends up presenting himself as an expert.
Carrie Gillon: Right.
Alex D’Arcy: And I’m not going to say I’m an expert, but I actually know more than he does.
Carrie Gillon: Well, you’re an expert about this. I mean, come on.
Alex D’Arcy: I wrote a book, but he, he explicitly told me he hadn’t read it.
Megan Figueroa: And he’d like to know your thoughts though.
Alex D’Arcy: yeah, yeah. I know
Carrie Gillon: you should just be like they’re in my book, there was a book
Alex D’Arcy: I should just send them the link to the Google.
Megan Figueroa: You should, you should.
Carrie Gillon: Yes.
Megan Figueroa: It’s almost as if like one of your friends. Here’s a really like dick move. Let’s troll her and
Alex D’Arcy: someone’s punking me, right?
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. Yeah.
Carrie Gillon: That’s what it feels like. But I know it’s not, I know that’s real because it happens all the time. So, this is not nearly on the same level at all, but someone posted something about the word “fuck”. And, um, we’re friends, we’ve been friends since high school. And so, I responded to him and then the guy underneath me said something about how “well fuck he used to be way more vulgar. And very few people would say it in comparison to now,” which is true. And I said, but actually originally it was less vulgar. So, it went through this like parabola and he just like copy and pasted the OED, as if that was like some sort of explanation for what he had said.
Alex D’Arcy: I know. Well, we just all caught up in that, that whole ideology. There we go. Ideologies about the dictionary as the expert.
Megan Figueroa: Yes. I wonder if the mansplaining in this case and other cases- where it’s words like “like” or vocal fry, we get mansplained about vocal fry too- if it’s something that seems like has long been associated with women or any other marginalized group, if the mansplaining- I mean, it feels worse, but I wonder if it actually is somehow worse, like if they take an authoritative stance on it more.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. I mean, well, this is going to seem tangential, but I’m going to come back to that. I mean, one of the reasons why I was really, really hesitant about working on “like” in the first place. So back in my PhD was that “like” has these very clear associations and here I was a young woman with aspirations and I was terrified about taking on a word that was that around the potential of attaching those ideologies to me, right? And so, I think there is this sense with these forms that are very much associated forms, practices that are associated with women when, especially when men don’t take ownership of the fact that it doesn’t matter what your gender is, right. Or what it, like, none of that is relevant in the use of these forms. Right. But when they have those ideologies, they don’t take ownership. And so then, you know, there’s this sense of, well sure. “Let me explain to you what’s really going on here.”
Carrie Gillon: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah, yeah, no, that’s definitely true. I, and maybe because I’m trying to reclaim these things for myself, as a woman, that I get more frustrated when I hear about mansplaining with these particular forms.
Alex D’Arcy: Oh yeah. Absolutely. I mean, what’s so interesting is, I mean, I love, I say it all the time. I love “like”, I love it. I think it’s incredibly useful in all of its uses. I think it allows us to do really complex and deeply meaningful things, both on a linguistic level and on a social level. It’s useful linguistically and socially. I use it all the time. All the time. But I’ve been called out on not using it when I’m teaching, including when I’m teaching about it.
Carrie Gillon: Interesting.
Alex D’Arcy: But it is this heavily stylized form, and it’s very register-based. And so, when people say to me, “do you tell girls to stop using it?” No. I don’t tell anyone to stop using anything. I don’t think there’s a linguist who does, but I do explain that there are places where it fits in more seamlessly than in others, right. And, and, and that’s, that’s something that has nothing to do with gender. But as a woman who uses it, you’re going to get nailed a lot harder if you use it in those places where it fits less comfortably.
Megan Figueroa: Uh, earlier you said, after I say, “like is our favorite word,” that it’s actually words. So, what did you mean by that.
Alex D’Arcy: I’m trying to get at the fact that there’s not just one “like”, because I think this is part of the problem with the ideology that we assume that all of those likes that are out there are the same. Like, and so even when people are using it in ways that may be perfectly grammatical that are not associated with those more stigmatized ones, they all tend to get lumped together in, in popular perception. And so, then that compounds this perception that it’s being overused and that it’s used too much. And that it’s used by certain groups, right? I mean, if you, if verb, unremarkable, noun unremarkable, complementizer unremarkable, it has some fairly unremarkable adverbial functions. There’s an adjective, although you don’t hear it that often, right? I mean, so there’s all these. A very, very, uh, normalized forms. Oh yeah. There’s also the conjunction. Some varieties of English have it as a modal verb apart from a lexical verb. So, there’s all of those different layers and uses. And then on top of those, we tack some of those things that feel more recent. This is when it’s useful to have visual, right. Cause I’m going feel in scare quotes. And so, few of them really are, right. So, you look at something like the approximative adverb, the sentence adverb. It’s at the end. That’s the one that we associate with Irish English, but it’s certainly not restricted there, where it’s a sentence adverb that you can gloss, as it were. Then you get into the sentence marker. The discourse marker, which is at the beginning of a sentence and it bridges sentences and clauses together. And then you get the particle where it’s inside the sentence and feels like it doesn’t mean anything, but of course it does. And now you’re starting to get an epistemic parenthetical. “I feel like.” You’re not actually feeling something, but you’re describing a set of beliefs. It’s marking your position to something. And then of course there’s the quotative and now there’s an infix. Right. So, you can get, I can’t do it. It’s too new for me. This one’s genuinely new, but younger speakers can say things like unlikebelievable.
Megan Figueroa: Oh yeah, definitely.
Alex D’Arcy: She’s unlikesympathetic. Yeah. Right. You see, it’s true. Of course. It’s totally right. But there’s all those layers. And I guess I left out the complementizer in there. Anyways. So, there’s all of these different layers and some of them are in fact related etymologically, but they’ve developed into these new functions. So, you can’t say that they’re all just the same thing, They occupy different parts of speech. They entered at different times. They do different jobs, right? So, there’s a ton of “likes”.
Megan Figueroa: when is the earliest? When did the earliest “like” enter English?
Alex D’Arcy: Old English. The verb and the adjective come from Old English. And then starting around the year 1200, you get this consecutive layering. So new forms very, very regularly start coming in. So, I’ve seen claims that the early modern period in particular, so 1800 to now has been this super active time for the proliferation of “like”. Well, it only looks that way if you look at the last 200 years. If you zoom out and you look at Old English to now, there’s nothing unusual about the last 200 years. It’s just that that’s where you get most of those more sort of discourse ones, Oh, that reminds me, cause I was doing some Googling of the word, before we were talking and I read something annoying, obviously that said it’s a “like” epidemic. So, it must go back to that idea of like, they think it’s this last 200 years. That there’s all these new “likes”, right? That must be what it is. What they’re thinking. Although, if you think about it, I love it. A “like” epidemic. Gorgeous. Gorgeous for all the wrong reasons, but that one, I’m sure they’re talking about the quotative and the particle. Cause those are the ones we react most. We just have this visceral reaction. And when I say we, I mean-
Megan Figueroa: of course
Alex D’Arcy: –the public writ large, right? Not us.
Megan Figueroa: No, I’m like, oh, I just said “like”, when I hear someone say” like”, I’m like, “oh, kindred spirit.” so, and along with the “like” epidemic that the Google results brought me, it was all of these like Business Insider articles that are like, “women, here’s an article for you. Here are the words that you should stop using so much.”
Carrie Gillon: Yep. Once again, gendered.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, because it’s a women’s problem. Instead of it’s just the way language works. I actually just recently described “like” as in fact having a super power and that super power is the fact that it can fill all of these different jobs. I can’t think of another word in English that can do that. Does as many jobs as like-
Megan Figueroa: What about fuck?
Carrie Gillon: Still doesn’t do as many.
Alex D’Arcy: What about the Buffalo sentence? Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. But, you have to create sort of bizarre and specialized circumstances to get that. Whereas, this is just because so many of them are so embedded in the grammar, right?
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. And also like, can be used in more situations than “fuck”, because sometimes you don’t want to use fuck in polite company, quote, unquote, polite company,
Carrie Gillon: And you can always use “like”, even if it’s just the verb or the noun or whatever.
Alex D’Arcy: The safer one yeah. That’s a beautiful word. It, we should respect it. We should, but-
Megan Figueroa: I’ve already, I mean, I already liked it before. I have come to respect it even more in the last two minutes. I’m very excited.
Alex D’Arcy: But actually, the problem isn’t “like”, right. The problem is not respecting “like”, the problem is respecting the people who use “like”.
Carrie Gillon: Exactly. So that brings us to the gender question. So why is it in our minds that it’s a gendered thing rather than it just a language thing?
Alex D’Arcy: Can you give me one feature of language that people think is new, that people don’t hate or feel irked by that they don’t blame on women?
Carrie Gillon: Touché.
Alex D’Arcy: Right. I mean, that’s a real thing. We know that’s a real thing. The other piece with “like” is that we’ve been playing the long con on ourselves that “like” is Valley Girl.
Megan Figueroa: well, Clueless.
Carrie Gillon: No, it’s older than Clueless. When I was a kid- and you know, I’m in my forties. So, when I was a kid, pre-Clueless, my parents told me, “you have to stop saying like so much.”
Megan Figueroa: But do they associate it with Valley Girl?
Carrie Gillon: I think so.
Megan Figueroa: Oh, yeah.
Alex D’Arcy: I mean, we’ll see, I mean, even think back to the original Valley Girl and Clueless is not the original Valley Girl. The original Valley Girl was a totally different social construct. And, but think back, remember the movie, is it actually called Valley Girl with Nicholas Cage?
Carrie Gillon: I don’t know.
Alex D’Arcy: From the eighties, you have to watch it. Early days of Nick Cage. He is dating one of the Valley Girls. He’s not from the Valley. He’s not part of the crew. He’s an outsider. And he and his girlfriend get into a fight and he decided to ad lib a line. And it’s actually my favorite line from the movie. Cause he stands outside her door and says “like, fuck you, for sure.”
Nick Cage: Fuck off, for sure. Like, totally.
Alex D’Arcy: And so, you get this perfect little microcosm of the ideology of a Valley Girl in one utterance, and it’s not in the script. He completely ad-libbed it. I love it. But they’re definitely a group who had “like” in the repertoire. And when I say that the caution here is actually every group had it in the repertoire at that time, but it was this resource that was available for identity creation and signaling. And they definitely used it, but I mean, the Beats used it too. If you go back even further, Scooby Doo is based originally on a Beat character from a TV show, then the character was modified and turned into the surfer dude. And so, then you get Shaggy.
Carrie Gillon: Wow. I didn’t know that.
Fred: Not until we walk around this ghost town and see what we can find.
Shaggy: Like, I know what we’ll find.
Alex D’Arcy: Shaggy uses “like”, and he uses the discourse marker. The initial one. That’s the only place he ever uses it. Discourse marker. Why? It was a Beat feature. So, it was carried over, but then it became associated with these other groups and we’ve clung to that in North America. That belief doesn’t extend beyond North America. Valley Girl is a meaningless categorization for the most part, outside of here. I actually remember talking about that once in New Zealand and people thought I was talking about a valley on the North Island of New Zealand. Interestingly they didn’t understand the reference. But, for North America, that female thing is associated with that for very real sort of cultural reasons. But I think elsewhere it’s associated with women because it’s something that we don’t like. And if you think that it’s meaningless and vacuous, that’s something that goes with the teenage girl profile anyways, not in a real way, but in an ideological way. And it’s really frustrating. It’s really frustrating because it’s not real, it’s just not real. And I mean, we know that probabilistically, the quotative, sure women tend to use that more, other things being equal, than their male peers. That’s one form. Same thing. So, the marker actually tends to be used a little bit more by women. But one of the things that I found when I started looking at “like” as a particle inside the sentence, so with nouns, with verbs, with adjectives, it’s actually used probabilistically more by men.
Carrie Gillon: Wow. That’s good to know.
Megan Figueroa: I’m surprised by that. And I’m like, dang it. Well, you’re playing into the whole stereotype.
Alex D’Arcy: I mean, men can lead changes. Here’s one of them.
Carrie Gillon: Interesting.
Alex D’Arcy: Right? It’s not a huge margin, but it’s there and it’s real.
Carrie Gillon: And we don’t notice it in men because once again, we’re not trained to pick on men.
Alex D’Arcy: No.
Megan Figueroa: I was just thinking about Shaggy. I mean, I guess I remember him talking like that, but see, it’s the same with Chris Trager and Parks and Rec when he says “literally” all the time. I’m not bothered by it, but if it were a woman, I might be just because of how I’m conditioned. Or how I’ve been conditioned.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. I mean, our antenna are up, right? It’s perception bias. You start to think that, well, this is how it is. And so, you notice it more on one hand and you notice it less on the other.
Carrie Gillon: Exactly the same with vocal fry. We only notice it in women, even though men use it almost as much.
Alex D’Arcy: Almost as much. Though, I will tell you, I have become really distracted during office hours if I have a student who identifies as a man in my office and he’s super creaky, I sometimes get really distracted. Cause I’m focused in on all that.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah. There are certain male speakers that I’m just like, all I can hear is that the creek.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Yeah. But then I hear myself.
Carrie Gillon: Oh yeah. I mean, I have it too. Not as much as some other people, but I definitely use it.
Megan Figueroa: Wow.
Carrie Gillon: Well, you definitely use it, but you’re not the only speaker.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. But I mean, my son is an awesome “like” user. He has the most fantastic grammar of “like”, he always has, he can do things I can’t do. So, it’s really fun to, to listen to him and, and listen to his friends and see how they’re using it.
Carrie Gillon: Cool.
Alex D’Arcy: Because they’re the next wave, you know, they just, it just keeps pushing forward. So, what’s coming next.
Megan Figueroa: So ,would you say that the “like” infix is the latest one to enter?
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah.
Megan Figueroa: I love it. I love the “like” infix.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. It’s useful. It’s fun. And it was actually one of my RAs who found it first in my data, because I say to them, if you’re transcribing and you hear something cool, send me an email. And so, I get this email full of exclamation marks and “you won’t believe it. And here’s the sound clip.”
Carrie Gillon: Cool.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. So that was really awesome. So, then I started paying attention for it.
Carrie Gillon: I’m gonna do that now because I haven’t heard it in the wild, I don’t think, but now I want to.
Alex D’Arcy: Listen.
Megan Figueroa: I know.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Put, put your antenna up. You’re going to hear it.
Carrie Gillon: I’ll probably hear it today.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. I know another one that a colleague of mine told me that she gets from her child and this person is now I think, in their early twenties. And so, my colleague keeps telling me that their child will start a sentence in a conversation with “like” – line initial, turn initial “like”.
Carrie Gillon: Ooh.
Alex D’Arcy: And I haven’t caught that one yet.
Carrie Gillon: Kind of like so.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. But I don’t think it’s exactly alike.
Carrie Gillon: No, cause otherwise why even have it.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. But so, I haven’t caught it. So, listen for that one too, because I’ve been told that it exists.
Carrie Gillon: I’m sure it does, but I don’t think I’ve heard it either or at least I didn’t notice it, which is actually probably more probable. Interesting.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Which I wouldn’t predict you could get, I wouldn’t expect it
Megan Figueroa: Was the like infix, was that a clip from a Canadian speaker?
Alex D’Arcy: Yes. Yeah. That’s part of the Victorian English archives, but then, someone was someone was posting just randomly on Twitter, one day, about a conversation overheard in, in the UK and it had an infix. So, I don’t think these things are regional. They have nothing to do with region. That’s the other thing we want to think, that “like” is American.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah, no, no, no.
Alex D’Arcy: No. I mean, how did anything get anywhere? And so really, I, when I looked at the evidence for this, I was looking at UK varieties of English and what I’m going to call settler colonial varieties. So, Canada, US, Australia, and New Zealand. So, those are the ones I had my eye on. They’re all in my mind united by the fact that they were characterized by a very particular kind of colonialism. It’s distinct from what you would see, say in India or Singapore, where there was no interaction with local Indigenous peoples, right? So, what you get in these places is this continuous evolution of what came with the original settlers. So, in that case, the fact that you have “like” doing all the same jobs in all of these places is not because everybody’s sitting watching Valley Girls movies, which is what people like to say. That’s the leading popular hypothesis, which is completely bogus. It’s because it was already there. The roots were there already. And it’s very clear that the sentence-final adverb was there at the time of settlement, the discourse marker was there at the time of settlement. So, you just get these continuing things that are forming and developing in the language.
Megan Figueroa: I mean, I totally played into it. I was like Clueless, but I’m American. So, I always think that America is the first.
Carrie Gillon: There’s also the, kind of the opposite feeling that Americans are ruining the English language. I think that plays into it as well.
Megan Figueroa: I mean.
Alex D’Arcy: Those Americans, they gave us “like”. Well, no, they didn’t. But blame those British ancestors you’re so proud of.
Megan Figueroa: Americans are ruining a lot of things, but not the English language.
Carrie Gillon: Possibly democracy.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. I’ve played into that too. I mean, I’ve written that “be like” was probably American, the quotative, and now I’m convinced it it’s not.
Carrie Gillon: That’s interesting. I mean, I had no feelings one way or the other about the quotative, because I’ve never studied this, but that’s interesting.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, the claim is there in the literature and I’ve built that argument, in that 2007 paper in American Speech where I talk about the ideology of “like”, I put together an argument why I thought that we could sustain the argument that perhaps it had originated in the US. And now I know I’m wrong. I was wrong. All of us who said that, I’m convinced we’re wrong.
Carrie Gillon: So, do you see it like an older text or something? Or why do you think it’s wrong?
Alex D’Arcy: I think it’s wrong because the roots of “be like”, and this is something I’ve just recently written up. The roots of “be like” are “be” as a quotative verb and “like” as a discourse marker. You’ve been able to put “like” in front of quotes for a very long time, where it meant exactly what the discourse marker meant. It meant, for example, “let me clarify, let me clarify.” “Let me illustrate what I’m saying.” It could go in that slot for a really long time. Usually it happened with “say”, because “say” was the default verb for quotation. We know that now. So, “be” had to find its way, right? Like first “say” had to become less frequent and then “like” starts to proliferate, occurring with different verbs. And when you first get “be” and “like” together- so, if you think back, the first articles about “be like” wrote it “be + like”- they were so right. We needed to pay more attention to that. It was bang on, it was the verb “be” as a quotative and “like” as a discourse marker.
Megan Figueroa: So for the listeners, the “be like”, is something like: “he’d be like, ‘why are you doing that?’”
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah.
Carrie Gillon: Or just, “I’m like.”
Alex D’Arcy: “I’m like, ‘it’s the best thing ever.'”
Megan Figueroa: Is it mostly in the contraction do you think?
Alex D’Arcy: You get it- yeah, it’s contracted a lot. Well, you get it, “be” is contracted a lot anyway. And then, it happens a lot in stories. And that’s where you also get a lot of historical presence. So, it has this historical present. So, it has a present form. So, instead of “I am” you get “I’m” and he, she, they, you just contract it. But the “be”, the full “be like” is kind of cool too. Cause now that that’s becoming its own thing.
Megan Figueroa: I wonder if we see it and other people that have certain dialects, if you’ve noticed anything, because I feel like I’ve noticed it more in certain speakers and I don’t know what I was picking up on, but I feel like if you say he, “he would be like”, it’s certain speakers. I don’t know if you’ve noticed anything.
Carrie Gillon: So, you mean like the conditional?
Megan Figueroa: I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m noticing. Is it like Southern English? I don’t know what I’m picking up on at all.
Alex D’Arcy: I don’t know what you are either, and I’m going to have to listen for it. I mean, part of what’s going on with English quotation, anyway, is that it used to be really, really restricted in terms of tense and temporal reference and aspect. You didn’t get a lot of fancy stuff going on in quotation, right? You got simple present and you got simple past and you got the odd historical present, right? So, you’re using present tense, present morphology, but you’re referring to something in the past. Across the 20th century, more and more and more, all of a sudden, you’re getting all kinds of things. So, you’re getting futures, you’re getting future in the past, you’re getting conditionals, you’re getting progressive. Now historical present with a progressive, right? That’s new. So maybe what you’re picking up on is that younger speakers have a wider range of the ways in which they can use verbs generally. And since they tend to use “be like”, you’re hearing more forms,
Megan Figueroa: You’re right. And so I’m like, this is what I’m trying to get at. I say, “he could be like”, or “he would be like”, or he “will be like.”
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Because there’s all that irrealis stuff going. You get lots of hypothetical quotation and that’s new too. It used to be, if it got said or thought- actually you hardly ever quoted what you thought- but it used to be that if it got said, you could report it. But now you can go through this whole range of things that could happen. If he did blah, I’d be like, “no, you can’t do that.” That didn’t use to be productive for English speakers as a vernacular practice. I think these things probably happen in writing a lot, but they never, they didn’t really happen in speech.
Megan Figueroa: Okay. Is this so exciting. I hope that the listeners are hearing this and are, are thinking something like, um, wow. Look at the range of this word or words that maybe I didn’t like before.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. I mean, I say I call it, I use word too. I use singular, but in my mind, I know that I’m actually spelling it with capital letters, because it’s one thing that represents a whole bunch of different things, but they all just sound the same. And so, it’s easy to just call them “like”, but I do think it’s a bunch of different “likes”.
Carrie Gillon: I think I do too.
Alex D’Arcy: Right? Love the likes.
Carrie Gillon: We need a t-shirt.
Megan Figueroa: Wow. I really am reflecting on how inspiring I found this conversation because as I’m talking to you and trying to formulate responses or whatever, I am noticing how I say like so much. And I knew I did.
Carrie Gillon: I notice that a lot because when I try to create transcripts for episodes and I take out most of the “likes”. Not because I think they’re bad, but just because it’s harder to read than it is to hear, I think. It’s like more disruptive anyway. So yeah, I noticed that we both use it, but I think you use it more than I do. I was taught to take them out of my speech when I was like 10. So.
Megan Figueroa: I was never told that.
Carrie Gillon: Oh, that’s good.
Megan Figueroa: I mean maybe my English teachers in my writing, but never the way I spoke. Yeah. And if anyone’s gonna criticize the way I speak now, they usually hone in on the vocal fry. So that seems to be the one that people, I don’t know, it trumps all other ones. Like “you may say ‘like’ and ‘um’ a lot, but your vocal fry is really grating.“
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. No, no. It’s beautiful.
Megan Figueroa: Oh, wow. I just feel like this is a therapy session for Megan,
Alex D’Arcy: It should be a therapy session for anyone who’s ever been criticized for their likes.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah, right?
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not a bad form. It’s not meaningless. It’s not vacuous. I mean, when you use it in- the problem one is the one inside the phrase, right? That’s the one I was like jumping up and down, “give it to like the man over there.” That those “likes” are the ones that we have real problems with for some reason. And I think it’s because there’s no straightforward way in which to gloss them or translate. I mean, if you put “like” at the beginning of a sentence- you’ve both done it a number of times during our conversation, I’m sure I have too. And if you step back from those, you can say, “oh, well that one meant ‘for example’” and “oh, that one meant, ‘oh, she’s clarifying now.’” That’s what I mean by translating it right? The one inside the sentence, you can’t do it in that straightforwardly. But it’s still incredibly useful because it allows us- so I guess as a linguist, we would call it focus, as a non-linguist, I would just say it helps you put attention on certain parts of the sentence. This is like the fact that “she’s like jumping up and down”, it focuses on the jumping. You really get an image from that. UBut it also helps you mitigate authority. So, you don’t want to sound like you’re a know-it-all or a jackass, right? Or correcting somebody. And then it also helps you build solidarity because we’re having a friendly conversation here and we want the listeners to feel that they’re involved in the conversation and that we’re not having this highfalutin, stiff, erudite conversation that not everybody’s meant to be, I mean, and so there’s lots that’s going on with “like”, and, but you can’t say, “oh, well, she used it that time because she wanted me to like her.” You can’t do that. So, therefore, it’s problematic because then- this is one of the ones I got mansplained on. If you can take it out of the sentence and it doesn’t change the meaning, then you would be better off.
Megan Figueroa: Oh no. I was going to say, “well, actually, if I can take you out of the conversation, then maybe you’re vacuous.”
Alex D’Arcy: But that’s an interesting one too, because that puts all of this priority on the meaning that you get just from the words and ignores the fact that- so little of the meaning in an interactive context, that there there’s so much meaning that comes from all of the other things. Gesture, pitch, rate, intonation, all those discourse markers- creak, non creak, whisper. You go in and out of modal for different reasons. All of those things add layers of meaning that are not captured in the words themselves. So that’s the real problem with that one, because people cannot assign a word meaning to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.
Megan Figueroa: Right. And all of those things that it’s doing, why wouldn’t you want to be more friendly.
Carrie Gillon: He’s a physicist, remember? He doesn’t want to be more friendly. I mean, even Neil deGrasse Tyson, who’s trying to be friendly, still isn’t all that friendly.
Megan Figueroa: Oh, that’s true. I forgot about his little linguistic, uh, gems on Twitter.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. Well, I laugh, because when I put it on Facebook and Adam Schembri came on and he said, well, I’ve dropped things before. I should tell him about my theories of gravity.
Carrie Gillon: Oh, I hope there are physicists listening so they can learn not to do this anymore.
Megan Figueroa: They’ll be like, “we are no longer listening.”
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. It’s so dangerous. I do think it is because everybody talks that they feel that they’ve become an expert on language. And because everybody talks in social contexts, they think they understand the meanings that are happening when they’re speaking. And unfortunately, because talking is so quotidian, right? Not only do we talk constantly, whether we’re doing it verbally or signing, communication is built on these language systems. And so, they become so quotidian, and we have so much talk about talk. I mean, I know I’m not the first one to say this. I know I’m not saying anything novel here, but I really do think that that’s part of what’s going on. Whereas we all walk on the ground every day, or are mobile on the ground in some way. And don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the fact that we’re not floating off the ground.
Carrie Gillon: That’s true.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah. It’s the same reason why in some ways it’s easier to engage students because we’re like, “look, this is something that you do.” And they want to talk about how they talk. It’s very exciting for a lot of people. I guess that’s the flip side of it, a lot of people think that they know everything about language.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, yeah. Or that what’s true for them is a universal truth.
Carrie Gillon: That’s very common, very, very common.
Megan Figueroa: That’s what babies think.
Carrie Gillon: Adults think that their experiences are universal.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. And it’s hard to beat. I mean, I teach a third-year introductory socio class and ideology ties everything together, right? I mean, for every topic that I do, whether we’re talking about language planning or gender, we’re bringing ideology into it, because that’s the one thing that unites all of these things. And, I do spend a good chunk of time talking to them about the way that we judge people automatically in most cases, as soon as we hear them talk, or whatever the case may be. And so we go through this whole thing and I’m like, “these are social judgments, these are not linguistic judgments. Let’s talk about all of these linguistic judgments. And let’s talk about the fact that if you understand it, then it’s clearly a functioning grammatical system, yada, yada, yada.” And then at the end of the whole thing, I actually do a sort of modified match guise and I play three voices for them and I have them rate the voices on how funny do you think this person is, how intelligent do you think this person is, and how kind do you think this person is. And we’ve literally just finished two weeks of talking about ideology and how we judge people for the way that they speak. I give them this exercise. Nobody questions me. I’ve never once have had a student say, “but Alex, you just said we shouldn’t do this.” They all just go ahead and do it. And I have them send me their results and I graph it for them every year. And every year the results are identical.
Carrie Gillon: Really. Wow!
Alex D’Arcy: They’re all judging the speakers in the same way. And it’s consistent from year to year to year. It’s a really powerful exercise, right? Because these are students who now think that they’ve become enlightened and that they’ve learned. And yet they fall into that trap. The second the opportunity presents itself.
Carrie Gillon: That’s true.
Alex D’Arcy: So, these are really hard things and, and it’s, and in saying that, it’s not even as though I’m innocent.
Carrie Gillon: None of us are.
Alex D’Arcy: We all do these things, but it’s a matter of bringing it to the forefront and realizing that that’s what we’re doing when we do it and then stepping back from it.
Carrie Gillon: Wow. I mean, I guess I should not be surprised, but I would’ve thought there’d be at least some variation, but I guess not. I mean, all your students are probably more or less from the same generation and same racial makeup, et cetera. Not like each one, but each group as a whole.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. And I’ve got an RP speaker. I have a Newfoundland speaker, which in Canada is meaningful and I have just a standard urban mainland general Canadian speaker. And these are recordings that Sandra Clarke gave me. So, she- Sandra Clarke is At Memorial University of Newfoundland. She gave me these recordings after I finished my Master’s degree. So, I’ve had them all this time and I use the same ones every year. And it’s spectacular. I mean, every year the RP speaker is the most intelligent, but the least funny.
Carrie Gillon: I’m not surprised by that at all. So now that you say what the groups are, I’m like, okay. Yeah. I would have the same judgements.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah. But I mean, I can literally overlap them, all the graphs, one on top of the other. And there’s very little variance. So even the degree to which they’re rated doesn’t shift.
Carrie Gillon: Right. That’s amazing.
Megan Figueroa: I don’t know if there are people out there that listen to the podcast and they’re feeling kind of down on themselves because they keep doing these things. It’s just reflecting how we all do it. It’s so deeply embedded. We’re all just trying to be a little bit less of an asshole by like noticing these things and noticing why we’re judging them the way that we do. I mean, that’s all we can do.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, because this is stuff that we grow up on. I mean, it’s so imbricated in our cultural dialogues, right? From the time you understand what people are talking about around you, you’re hearing judgments. So, so it’s part of the cultural fabric and that’s really, really hard to undo.
Carrie Gillon: It’s really hard. Yeah.
Alex D’Arcy: Right. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not giving us a pass, but I’m saying this is the context in which we exist. And so, then you begin to recognize that, then you start to catch yourself and then you start to step back from that. And with luck, we judge a little less harshly. The worst judges, the most judgy people, in my experience, are fairly well-educated folks who then hold everybody else up to this standard, whereby if you’re not producing the right variety, that that says really negative things about the speaker. Which is so embedded in privilege.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah, absolutely.
Alex D’Arcy: And reproduces class distinctions and all the rest of it. And so, I think that once we realize those things, then we can sort of step back and say, “oh yeah, well ‘there but for the grace of God’, I can have these ideologies only because I’ve had the good fortune to have been born into this kind of family, educated in the following kind of way, have the following skin color,” like all of these things are things factor into it. We’re way off the mark from “like”, but I mean, it’s really all the same.
Carrie Gillon: Speaking of being way off of “like” when you brought up Memorial, it reminded me that you and I have had very overlapping scholarly careers, and yet we never met until January. This last January. You and I were both at UBC for our Bachelor’s at the same time, but I guess you were in the English Department and I was in Linguistics. You went to Memorial for your Master’s. I went to Memorial for my postdoc. You went to University of Toronto for your PhD. I went to University of Toronto for my Master’s. So. It’s like two ships passing in the night.
Alex D’Arcy: That’s hilarious. Those are ultra Canadian ships. What is it? Boaty McBoatface? One of us was at the end of the boat. One’s at the stern. Anyway. Yeah. So, so bizarre. I know we should have met ages ago. You know, the funny thing is when I was at UBC, I took my first linguistics class and I hated it so much. I swore I would never do linguistics again.
Carrie Gillon: That’s hilarious.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, I know. I hated it so much. Never, never again, am I doing linguistics. You can’t do an English language major and not do linguistics, it turns out. And then they sucked me back in.
Carrie Gillon: Who was the professor?
Alex D’Arcy: I, you know, I forget. It was not a regular faculty member. It was a recent PhD from a program that we have in common. And I did not like it-
Carrie Gillon: Fair enough.
Alex D’Arcy: –at all, but also part of it was, I think, I didn’t really understand what linguistics was, and the way they do it at UBC- UBC, you should think about this- the way they do it at UBC, or at least in those days was, it was the second-year course that was the required one.
Carrie Gillon: Yeah. That they’ve changed that I think.
Alex D’Arcy: Oh, have they? Yeah, they had first-year courses and there are all these kids at the front rows. It’s a huge class. What are those classes with, you know, 200 kids. And all the ones in the front row had taken the first-year course, but now we were in the intro course. And so, most of us had no background and they sat up front and they asked all of these questions that seemed really advanced to me at the time. And the prof was super excited by those questions. And so spent all this time answering them, which just left me feeling alienated. And I thought I don’t get what this is about. And I don’t like it.
Carrie Gillon: Oh, that’s interesting.
Alex D’Arcy: Yeah, but I remember my TA, my TA was Darren Flynn.
Carrie Gillon: Oh, Darren. That’s awesome!
Alex D’Arcy: And he’s the only thing I liked about that course. The tutorials were awesome.
Carrie Gillon: Alright. Shout out to Darren. I was lucky. So, I started off in engineering my first year. So, my second year I was really grateful that the first class was actually second year level. Dale Kinkade was my first professor and he was a very strict man, but it just really appealed to my math brain and I was just like, “this is it.”
Alex D’Arcy: “I am here.”
Carrie Gillon: “This is my people.”
Alex D’Arcy: That’s hilarious. So, we obviously didn’t take that course in the same year.
Carrie Gillon: Or didn’t have the same person at least. Are there any other questions you want to ask Megan?
Megan Figueroa: No. I think we covered “like”. And I feel like you’ve Said some great bits that we’re going to pull quotes. Why this is important? What are we doing when we’re judging? Are there any closing thoughts that you have for the listeners about “like”, or about taking these gendered views of language, anything like that?
Alex D’Arcy: Well, I guess on the gender thing, what can I add? I mean, if you start judging a young woman for the way that she’s talking, I would say “bite your tongue and start trying to pay attention to men of the same cohort.” And if they’re not doing it at all, maybe then maybe you have an argument. And even then, I don’t think you do. As soon as you want to blame a woman: step back. You get off that high horse. But then, the thing with “like” is it is so subject to the recency illusion. We’ve noticed that it’s increasing, therefore it must be new, because in my day people never did this, right? No, there’s the thing with language. I mean, as linguists, this is what kills me. As linguists, we know this. Nothing just comes from nowhere. Everything has must necessarily have evolved somehow within the language. It’s very rare to just have spontaneous things erupt. So, okay. If you’re not a linguist, that might not be something you’re aware of. The thing with language, though, is that it is on this continuous evolutionary pathway, like any complex adaptive system. I mean, they’re constantly moving, they’re constantly reshuffling. And so, if you think something’s new, it probably isn’t, what has probably happened is that maybe it’s becoming it’s possible it’s becoming more frequent. It’s possible that a particular social group has decided to co-opt that. And when I say decided, I don’t mean in a conscious way, but different groups use different linguistic resources as part of identity-building and signaling who they are in group membership. So it could be that that’s what’s happened, but it’s very rarely the case that something is genuinely new in the sense of happening in the last five, 10 years.
Carrie Gillon: Right. Especially not “like”.
Alex D’Arcy: No, those ones we hate- that particle in the middle of the sentences. No, that goes back to the 18th century. Step off.
Carrie Gillon: I love it.
Megan Figueroa: I love it.
Carrie Gillon: All right. Well thank you.
Alex D’Arcy: You’re welcome.
Megan Figueroa: Yeah, this is great. Thank you so much.
Alex D’Arcy: And this is fun.
Carrie Gillon: it’s very fun. It’s always fun.And we always leave our listeners with our final thought, which is: don’t be an asshole.
Megan Figueroa: Don’t be an asshole.
Alex D’Arcy: Don’t be an asshole.
Carrie Gillon: All right, bye!
Melissa Lozada-Oliva: Like totally whatever. After Taylor Mali.
In case you haven’t realized it has somehow become necessary for old white men to tell me how to speak (?)
They like, interrupt a conversation that isn’t even theirs, and are like “speak like you mean it” and like “the internet is ruining the English language.”
And they like, put my “parentheticals,” my “likes” and “ums,” and “you knows” on a wait list.
Tell them no one will take them seriously in a frilly pink dress. Or that make-up.
Tell them they have a confidence problem. That they should learn to speak up, like the hyper-masculine words were always the first to raise their hands.
Invisible red pens and college degrees have been making their way into the middle of my sentences. I’ve been crossing things out every time I take a moment to think.
Declarative sentences, so-called, because they declared themselves to be the loudest, most truest, most taking up the most space, most totally white man sentences.
Have always told me that being angry has never helped like, anybody.
Has only gotten in the way of helping them declare more shit about how they’ll never be forgotten like, ever.
It’s like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway were geniuses for turning women into question marks.
It’s like rapes happen all the time on campuses, but as soon as Jon Krakaeur writes about it, suddenly it’s like innovative nonfiction, and not like something girls are like making up for like attention.
And it’s like maybe I’m always speaking in questions because I’m so used to being cutoff.
Like maybe, this is a defense mechanism: Maybe everything girls do is evolution of defense mechanism.
Like this is protection, like our “likes” are our knee pads.
Our “ums” are the knives we tuck into our boots at night.
Our “you knows” are best friends we call on when walking down a dark alley.
Like this is how we breathe easier.
But I guess feelings never helped anybody.
I guess like, tears never made change.
I guess like everything girls do is a waste of time (?)
So welcome to the bandwagon of my own uncertainty.
Watch as I stick flowers into your “punctuation mark” guns, ’cause you can’t just challenge authority. You have to take it to the mall, too.
Teach it to do the “bend and snap.” Paint its nails, braid its hair, tell it it looks like, really good today.
And in that moment before you murder it with all of the in your like, softness, you let it know that like this, like this moment is like, um, you know, me using my voice.
Carrie Gillon: The Vocal Fries Podcast is produced by Chris Ayers for Halftone Audio. Music by Nick Granum. You can find us on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @vocalfriespod. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.