Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Like, OMG! We are so totally from the valley, you know?

My daughters and I have made a pact to improve our spoken language. Just ask poor Caroline Kennedy--no one thinks it's cute when you are a grown woman speaking like a teenager. I found myself nagging at my kids about cutting out the "likes" and "you knows" when I realized --oh no!--I do it too!

It's tough to break old habits. The super-rad image I carefully crafted at age 13 lives on today. Only now it's not so cool. So the three of us are monitoring (read: badgering) each other so as to improve the overall speech in the Cebula household. It's funny, though, because we have slightly different issues.

I'm the like-er. Sometimes I'll, like, use the word "like" as a filler, like instead of "um" when I'm, like, trying to think of a word. I also use "goes" and "like" instead of "said" thusly:

"So she goes, 'Hey, you didn't call me back" and I'm like, 'No I didn't. Sorry.'"

Wait, how old am I? Oh, that's right. 38. Old enough to know better.

My seven-year-old is the Princess of Upspeak. You know, when every phrase? sounds like a question? Seems to be more prominent among girls? making them sound really unsure? When I turned it into a girl empowerment issue, she was more willing to work on it.

My ummmm nine-year-old is the ummmmmer. Ummmm, she has a lot to say, but, ummm, sometimes can't quite get it out. I suspect this problem will be harder to, um, solve.

What about you? Do you find yourself doing this? Or do you have any other verbal crutches?


Brian Jay Jones said...

I, too, am guilty of using "goes" and "like" instead of "said". I still have to consciously make myself NOT use those two words.

Where I grew up, we called the UpSpeak "Santa Fe Style," since it was a rather Northern New Mexico speaking pattern.

WendyCinNYC said...

Santa Fe Style. That's interesting. My girls are in a single-sex school, and upspeak is rampant.

WendyCinNYC said...

Oh, yeah, and Brian--if you happen to come back--I'm having trouble posting comments to your blog. I don't know if the problem is mine or yours.

Angie Ledbetter said...

We all have verbal tics. My dad breaks all the grandkid girls of saying "like" by immediately asking, "Like what?" Drives 'em batty enough to stop saying it...at least around him. :)

Umm, like, your blog isn't updating on my sidebar, and it, like, makes me nuts.

Janna Qualman said...

How great that Mom's working on it alongside them!

I'm better with "like," but still hear it creep in once it awhile.

My problem is I keep reusing the same phrases over and over again. "...and we'll plan accordingly..." or "...so we can tweak things a bit..." Or I'll be on the phone with a friend, and the word "amazing" or "fantastic" will litter the conversation. I get stuck in these word ruts. Where's a thesaurus when you need one?

Melanie Avila said...

ROFL! Wendy, the sentence you quoted from yourself could be taken from my mouth verbatim. My husband's biggest complaint is that I say "and uhh" as a filler. It drives him batty. I told him I'm improving because at least now I hear when I say it - before I didn't even notice it. He's also helped me stop saying "seriously" all the time.

I've cut down on the "likes" since I worked with a woman who says it ALL the time, but I still say it occasionally.


WendyCinNYC said...

Angie--Drat about the sidebar. I have no clue how to fix that, or what could possibly be wrong.

Janna--Yeah, but having my daughters correct my speech is getting old QUICKLY. I guess that's the point.

Melanie--Are the common verbal fillers different down Mexico way? I would guess that they are.

Jen said...

My mother broke me of my "like" and "you know" habits when I was twelve by continually asking me "No, I don't know. Why don't you tell me?" every time I said "you know", and mocking me mercilessly by inserting "like" every third word in her own sentences. Hearing her do it pointed out to me how obnoxious it was.

Sadly, she couldn't eradicate my "Ah" sentence starters. Learning how to get rid of ahs, uhms and other speech hesitations didn't come until I was taught how to give military briefings. That'll cure you, right quick. Nothing like public humiliation (and listening to your peers get slammed for saying "okay" too much) to knock you straight.

Now, all of my hesitations are strictly in print. I put them there because I daren't say them aloud. My tiny rebellion. *grin*

DebraLSchubert said...

I can like so totally relate, dude! My two years living in southern California did me in for life. My bigger problem is I can't get over the fact that I'm actually over 40. How is that possible? I still feel - and often like totally sound like - I'm still 16. I should probably like totally work on that.

Rafael said...

My mother has the "thing" tick. As in "could you grab that thing, yeah that one, no the other one". Nothing has a name in her house.

Kristina said...

I don't think we can completely eliminate verbal tics. We're only human!

My bad speaking habit used to be cursing. I could swear like a merchant marine (I blame it on being a reporter in a newsroom, we're a foul bunch).

But, I have little ones now, and have managed to get myself out of the habit, mostly, anyway. So I honestly have no idea why my precious toddler girl said the other day, clear as a bell, "Oh, shit."

Bryn Greenwood said...

I've become rather militant against my use of "like" instead of "said," but I have to acknowledge: it's a losing battle. I may break myself of the habit, but in 20 years it won't matter. I imagine that the next generation won't even use said. Wonder if it'll look archaic and quaint to them when they see it in a book?

Brian Jay Jones said...

Wendy -- Your post was fine. I had to clean out my comments for a couple of messages due to a bizarre flood of spamming. But keep posting!

WendyCinNYC said...

Jen--I actually can talk to an audience without all the likes and you knows, but in casual speech, forget it.

Debbie--I lived in SoCal for 8 years, so I hear you!

Rafael--That's a common one, too.

Kristina--I worked at a bar in college, and then spent years in the advertising world. LOTS of cursing in those places, too.

Bryn--Oh, I hope not. But I fear you are right!

Brian--Good! I was confused.

Melanie Avila said...

Wendy, I'm sure there are fillers here, but my mind is completely blanking. There are a lot of Canadians so I have started saying "ay" more.

I do find I swear more because not as many people understand me. Not a good reason, but it is what it is (even though those are the words they probably learn first).

Anita said...

I worked in radio for years and it cleaned up my mouth. Something I think a lot of the population (including our new pres) does: pronounces the word "to" like "tuh."
Example: I was going tuh the market and ran intuh my friend Jenny.

Leon Basin said...

Hey, how are you doing? Hope all is well fellow writer. Would love to speak to you sometime.

colbymarshall said...

I'm a "goes" a "like" and a "um" Man, that's a lot.

ac said...

When in a serious discussion, debate I never Valley speak. When in normal conversations, I'm a total Valley girl, complimented with some ghetto fabulousness, and peppered with truck driver talk.

Overall, I'm pretty classy.