Word Abuse: LIKE and UNLIKE

Here we see an example of two words that should not exist and are wholly meaningless!   They do usually come in pairs.   Upon this page we shall explain clearly the difference between “(un)like” and that which a real person would say.

Like” is obviously the worst word in on the world.   Worse than “genocide”, because UN armed forces can deal successfully with genocides so that we may safely ignore them, whereas there is no worldwide army to stop those people who kill others with “like”!
The Queen’s English Society realise this, and threw together an article condemning like, using sensible arguments alongside half-truths and lies.   Their main complaint is that like already has a meaning, so it cannot be used to fill pauses in sentences!   No other word or phrase is used this way, if you overlook “well”, “sort of”, “so to speak”, “you know”, “actually”, “just”, “as it were”, “if you will”, “in a way”, “I don’t know”, “in fact”, “I mean”, “you see”, and “kind of”.

And overlook them we shall!   The QES have singled out “like” for deserved abuse because it is used by Americans and young people, whom it is fair verbally to abuse as they probably don’t even understand us non-American non-youngsters anyway.
The Society’s excellent solution is to replace “like” with clueless um-ing and ah-ing, a sensible idea (as long as you are not American or young, in which case we shall condemn you for it).

As a matter of fact, the QES prove that it is not necessary to understand or research a phrase before you condemn it!   This really accelerates the complaining process and is to be applauded.
Firstly they perform their usual trick of inventing a phrase that nobody has ever said:
“I, like, prefer, like, classical music, like” [1][2]
It does sound horrible, but they’re the ones persons who wrote it.   If they plan to fine people for their “criminality” in using the word “like”, they will have to stand at the front of the queue.   (They did actually call it “criminality” at the end of the original article.[1])

THEN, however, they print a real quotation from an actual human!   The US-American First Lady, Michelle Obama, was caught talking informally, which is a terrible crime.   Let’s just pray that the QES quoted her correctly and didn’t mis-spell her husband
s name in their version of what she said:
“And I like — what are you going to do.  And he (presumably Barak) like — I dunno but I’ll find something. And I like — well you better get on with it.” [1][2]
This makes her sound drunk.   In reality she was telling a story:
“And I’m like, ‘What are you going to do?’.
And he’s like [Barack Obama said], ‘I dont know but Ill find something’.
And I’m like, ‘Well, youd better get on with it’.”
Not words she would use in a formal speech, but at least it’s comprehensible, even to the QES.   They omitted the correct punctuation; they misrepresented her words to suit their argument against “like”, and ended up making themselves look stupid.

Maybe the following quotes will reprieve the Queen’s English Society:
“English is becoming corrupted in the age of mass communications, the text message, e-mail and the like.” [3]
If you do find your name here, hang your head in shame because you are by definition a person of English mother tongue with a good education, and you occupy a public position in politics, TV, the press, public service or the like and should know better than to have said or written that which is being reported here.” [4][5]
No, this just makes things worse!   I don’t understand this “like” gibberish at all; they are just adding to the problem, even though the last sentence is impressively long.

“Like” has many meanings, and, like the language and its grammar, it is in constant flux.   The word is demonised, but we can analyse it grammatically, as we can any other word:
“I was like, ‘bye’” means “I said something like, ‘bye’,” etc.

But this does feel like apologising for a word that is overused – especially by the Queen’s English Society!!! – and everybody has a word or two that they overuse.   To the QES, the most diplomatic thing I can say is “please stop whinging, do some research, and stop saying like”; and everybody else must remember that like has no place in formal writing – because it doesn’t appear in formal writing. So you already knew that.

But one never knows;
LIKE’s status may change in future, and thanks to the QES’s philistine rantings (which are even less attractive than the overuse of the word) I have been moved to concede that “like” is also charming, funny and concise.    I know the QES will be all like “I shall rage and bluster against you”, but their attitude will succeed only in speeding about like’s acceptance into high society.


But there is one word, UNLIKE, that is even worse than like.   It is astoundingly awful.

Now that we’ve built the tension up, you are certain to be shocked and convinced by whatever we come up with.  Well, “unlike” is not a word.   That much we have established already.    Here are some examples of use that we have made up:

“Bees have wings, unlike dung beetles.”
[We should probably write “d*** beetles”, actually, to protect the sensibilities of our readers. Make sure that this is done. – Ed.]
“Mabeline, um, don’t you think it is time for us to marry, er, unlike a vicar, who is not allowed to marry, unless it is in the sense of his ‘marrying’ of us two?”
(This is an issue we shall tackle later, but suffice it to say: you can not marry the vicar!  It is unlawful.)

Very confused sentences!   Unlike is used, I regret to say, by almost 100% of persons, all of whom are VERY WRONG because the English “un-” prefix can ONLY denote negating adjectives who already have a positive form that we at the PEF have allowed into the language past the border guards.   Thus,

HAPPY is the opposite of UNHAPPY
“I am happy” is just as good a sentence as “I am unhappy”

ESSENTIAL’s natural opposite is UNESSENTIAL, and
ESCAPABLE is the opposite of UNESCAPABLE.

These last two may sound strange and wrong, but it is to be thanked that they are not.   They are the forms preferred by grammar expert Henry Watson Fowler in his classic 1926 usage guide.  He would be disappointed if he had predicted the future wrongly, so just play along.    A man might reasonably say both
“This QES dungeon is escapable” or “Our fates are unescapable”.

But can men say:
“I am like”, or “I am unlike” ?!?!
No, one may not say these and, should anyone dare type such a sentence, they ought to return swiftly to school or open a reference book or use common sense!   The Frenchmen do not say “uncomme moi” for “unlike me”, and it is from them that we must take our example.    The other languages, German, Spanish and Alpine Bavarian, have no equivalent to “unlike” either.   Somebody simply made it up in English, to save himself or herself some time!   One cannot make a language shorter; that is not how language works.

WE UN-LIKE THIS WORD – or should we say, WE DIS-LIKE THIS WORD and it has no place in speech!


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