I do believe the speaker is a college student who is here for an intensive German immersion experience, although the only German I heard her use was "Hallo" and "Tschüß." Every time she stepped away, the people she was talking with spoke German to each other. When the American returned, the conversation switched back to English. I have no doubt she's very nice, and what follows is not a personal attack on her. Hearing her reminded me of conversations I have not been able to block out on airplanes, in restaurants, and in school in Wisconsin.
This is what part of the conversation would have sounded like in German (I'm making up the actual content of what was said; the point is how she spoke):
"Ich war wie, 'Du bist, wie, in meiner Klasse und weißt, wie, nicht mehr als mich [sic], weißt du?' Und sie war wie, 'oh, es tut mir leid. Ich wollte nur helfen,' und ich war wie, 'verbessere mich nicht mehr, ok?' Das war, wie, SO nervig! Und die Lehrerin war wie, 'Was ist los?' und ich war wie, 'Nichts, alles klar.'"
The American-English original:
"I was like, 'You're like in the same class as me, and like, you don't know more than me, you know?' And she was like, "Oh, sorry. I was just trying to help,' and I was like, 'Just don't correct me anymore, ok?' That was like, SO annoying! And the teacher was like, 'What's wrong?' and I was like, 'Nothing, it's all good.'"
I realize the whole "I was like" (meaning "I said" or "I thought") thing is just a habit, and if I'm being honest I'm sure I use it too when I am with native English speakers (hopefully only occasionally). But Americans (I don't know if Brits do this, too) need to be aware of this little quirk and not use it with people who are translating into their own language.
The German translation of that little speech sounds absolutely stupid (as do most other grammatical mistakes native English speakers make if you translate them into German - case in point, "Mich und mein Freund fahren nach New York" - Me and my friend..." - and "Ich bin diese Woche schon 2 Kilometer lief" - "I have already ran 2 km this week"), but the English original does too, especially to an outsider who is sitting close enough that it's impossible not to overhear.
The thing that bothers me most when native speakers of English speak like this in a foreign country or to foreigners in America is that it is teaching or spreading crappy English. I do not want exchange students spending six months in America to return to their home country inserting "like" three times into every statement. "I stayed in like a really nice house with like a super nice family and like...it was like the best time of my life!"
Oh, and in case you were wondering, it is creeping into students' writing assignments. They use it on Twitter and probably in text messages (SMSs) as well, so it should come as no surprise that I saw this in high school essays. I typically drew a dark circle around the word (though in happy purple, not red) and wrote "Seriously?!?" in the margin - because "WTF" wasn't appropriate - with an arrow pointing to the word. It started happening more and more frequently, so I fled the country.
Someone needs to figure out how to surgically remove that word from the English language. Or develop a pill that stops its use.
|"Knock. It. OFF!!!"|