If you’ve been around me lately, you may know that I’m not a big fan of the word “like” as punctuation in our speech. “Like” has taken over from the word “actually” as a ‘spakfiller’ in our conversation. I don’t, like know, if you know what I like mean, but like sometimes it actually like, gets a bit like much. And what you’re saying gets lost in all the likes.
I was interested to catch something about this on the ABC this arvo (actually Rossie rang me to switch on the radio because they were discussing this ‘like’ phenomenon and she knew I’d be “interested”). What I found fascinating was the linguistics expert being interviewed suggesting that at least part of what is going on with the ‘like/actually’ thing is that people use them as “discourse markers” to ‘hold the floor’ in conversation. We (at least subconsciously) don’t let pauses happen, and use these fillers instead, because we want to speak continuously and not let others jump in (the rules of conversation are that pauses are fair game for others to join in… so we smother the pauses with ‘like’ and so forth). Interesting.
Now hey, the SCPC blog is hardly the place for obsessing over conversation etiquette. But it is worth thinking through what this trend means for our conversation. And whether we need to be different. We don’t need to speak the Queen’s English. But we do want to speak in a way that is honouring to King Jesus. And that has to mean (whatever we do with the word “like” or any other word) being less self-absorbed as we chat with others. As we’ve seen in our Connect series, our conversation should not only be “full of grace” (Colossians 4:6) but gracious. It should be focussed not on serving ouselves but serving others. Indeed, we’ll not only leave more pauses in our speaking but use more questions to actively engage others, that we might know them better.