I am at Pavement Coffee at Northeastern University which is a very popular place for college kids to hang out and enjoy something else than the Dunkin’-Donut-Americano-sewage-brew you usually get. Something else too, I have to mention. I talk about college kids, the reason is quite simply that people at college here are mostly kids aged around 18-21. In Switzerland students are typically older. Rarely, you will find a student who is only 18 or 19. Most people did a gap year or of course military service. At the universites of applied sciences the gap is even more significant since most students worked a couple of years before deciding to take up further studies. In Switzerland you would never hear somebody saying „college kids“.
Enough said about that, there are two girls chatting right next to me. They seem to be undergraduate students and they also seem to be having a typical conversation. Well, let me see if you can guess what conversation it is:
Blonde girl: Yeah, and I was kind of like trying to…..
Brunette girl: I know, that was like …, he just was like …. and I had to like….
Blonde girl: Oh my god, that is like… I mean like… but then still, he was kind of like….
Brunette girl: Really, I don’t know, he texted me like …. so I texted back like, hey ….
And what is your guess? I know pretty easy, it is basically every conversation you find among college kids. Apparently, the world like is the new ehm only that it is much more versatile and can replace any type of words verbs, adjectives, nouns. Like and ehm are both placeholders for people who either don’t know what they want to say or don’t know that a pause can be effective too when saying something. Every language has such words, in German or more precisely in Swiss-German it could be words such as “weisch”, “odr”, “dings” and many more. The less you use these words the more sophisticated you sound. It makes a huge difference. We are four Swiss guys here in Boston and people often tell us that our English is very good. Someone once explained that it is because we don’t use words such as “like” a lot. Thinking about it, I realise that in school we don’t learn it and therefore don’t use it which is a good thing I would say.
There is, however, a frightening trend in the U.S. regarding the average vocabulary of students. Some statistics claim the average number of words used declined from 25’000 to as low as 10’000 today. You can google it and find articles which claim that. For now, I can only speak for the present which I can observe and it is kind of like you see like on TV and stuff. Here are like some examples of like videos to support the argument a bit like. Enjoy!