“Are you like… checking me out?” asks Aishwarya Rai in her latest blockbuster movie Dhoom 2. There she is in all her 2 stich glory looking brazen and casually impudent. Her dialogues were loaded with challenge of sexuality. But, but, but… she used LIKE! And for that alone she needs to be punished- I will not use like in my language. This word completely destroyed the effect by its juvenile ring..
Cut to teenagers in a canteen or hanging out in multiplexes- the ‘like’ word opens a whole new perspective for us. Just “check out” these examples-
-Dad, can you like give me um 1000/-?
-Hey he is like totally cool
-Shit, I have like told you not to like come and like…….(like can be inserted at periodically periodic intervals)
-I don’t like like this! Now how do you decipher this statement? Do you not like it in as ‘not like it’? Or don’t you doubly like this? Or are you regressing in baby talk where everything has to be said twice (for example: children play ‘Teacher, Teacher’ or ‘School, School’ or ‘Catch, Catch’. I am totally lost.
My daughter now asks me if “Mom, can I like play till like 7.30?” I must have scolded her several times against using it. Now she has also started using words like cool and dude. For a teenager good, best, excellent, fantastic, mind-blowing – can all be summed up with one word- COOL! Germans have an absolutely COOL word for this- Wortkargheit. It means poverty of words. Multiple words covering such a wide spectrum of feelings- all bundled in one neutral sounding, blanket term. Cool, chill, like, F&%£, kick ass, and everything said on MTV that finds instant approval and mass teen following are examples of Wortkargheit. I suppose all ages and all generations have instances of word poverty and depict exactly the lingual, economic, political, cultural and social climate prevalent at that time. Here I am all tied up and fretting and my daughter coolly says Chill! That too while she is flopped on the sofa and without offering me any help whatsoever. The words that pre-teens and teens find so attractive are actually very annoying to us, just like that pair of distressed and torn jeans that we might mistake for an actually torn piece of cloth while all the time it’s the ‘in’ couture of the ‘hip’ crowd.
I suppose each generation has had its word-poor or wortkarg terms that have fuelled the imagination of thousands of teenagers and have been used in penning super-hit songs. In a way they reflect the life and times of that age, the lingual, socio-economic climate, cultural and political climate. fundoo, zhappi, zhol, gochi, lafda, certainly not the words that will win you the Nobel for literature or a Pulizer, but magic words that will find instant acceptance and favour in popular culture.
I can accept all wordkarg words but ‘like’ is beyond my digestive juices.