September 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Like, you know, I was all like, it’s kind of irritating when, like, good authors who are, like, trying to write in some kind of, like, literary formal register think that using like instead of, like, as if, makes their writing, like, contemporary or something.

When a writer has gone to the trouble of cultivating a certain voice, one that could only be done in the written form, the wrong sort of like derails the voice, the idea of the writer being in control of what they’re doing. Using like for as if is for speech only. If it’s the only deviation from an elevated register, it just looks like a mistake. (See also “since forever.”)

The concept of having separate languages for speaking and writing–which we certainly do, although we might not often notice it–is fascinating. Did you know that there is an entire tense in French that is used only in writing?


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