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Quotative LIKE in contemporary non standard English

Graham Ranger

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1I began my work in English linguistics by looking at concessive constructions. Since then I have had the opportunity to study concessive markers and indeed, discourse markers more generally. This line of research has inevitable led me to test the concepts and theoretical methods of the TOE against representations of transphrastic, argumentative meaning and also sociolinguistic, interactional meaning. It has led to wonder whether, to paraphrase the call for papers, such an approach might not select and prioritise certain areas of enquiry while possible ignoring, or underplaying, others.

2In the current paper I aim to study a contemporary, non-standard use of the marker like. I hope, firstly, to show how one might derive this use as a particular configuration of an abstract, invariant schematic form. Secondly, I will ask what this enunciative derivation might contribute to a representation of sociolinguistic and interactional values. Thirdly, I will consider potential relations between the enunciative model and diachronic accounts of the development of quotative like.

An introduction to quotative like

3The marker like typically functions as a prepositional marker of comparison or similarity:

  • 1 Cf. Robert Underhill (1988) for a study of this and related uses.

(1) I slept like a baby down here. BNC [S]
(2) He’s quite a gypsy you know he looks like a gypsy. BNC [S]
More familiarly, like is used as a marker of approximation, in premodifying position:1
(3) So I’m paying like a hundred and twenty pound a month less. BNC [S]
Or in postmodifying position, in certain varieties:
(4) […] all you got ta do is put the screws in those locks you know, like. BNC [S]

4Additionally, in some varieties of contemporary English, the marker like possesses a quotative use whereby it is used emblematically to introduce – generally short – stretches of direct speech (or thought) in sequences such as the following:

(5) “We know you, you’re that Derrick May aren’t you?” I’m like, “What?” And they’re saying, “Yes, we know who you are. We’ve got that techno album of yours and we play it all the time. We think it’s wonderful!” BNC
(6) And it’s funny, that’s never left me. I still kind of always go into studios and I’m like wow, I mean this is what I do and people let me, so. COCA [S]
(7) He went, you’re just a drop-out, you’re just sponging off the government. I was like, shut up, Ryan. He’s like, I know your sort. BNC [S]

  • 2 Voir Bernstein, Richard, “For ‘Teenspeak,’ Like Another Meaning for the Multipurposeful ‘Like’” in  (...)

5Such instances of like, which I am too old to use convincingly, but which my own students employ with worrying ease, are generally considered to be non- or sub-standard2. Quotative like is additionally often associated with the speech of young North Americans (teenspeak) and, controversially, has said to be preferred by female speakers. Blyth et al, for example, write:

  • 3 Blyth, Carl, Recktenwald, Sigrid, Wang, Jenny, “I’m like, ‘Say what!’ A New Quotative in American N (...)

respondents found the use of ... be like indicative of middle-class teenage girls. [...] In fact, the connotations for be like can be summed up by the most frequent epithet of all in our survey, “Valley Girl”, an American stereotype with social and regional connotations.3

be like compared to other quotatives

6At first sight, the be like quotative sequence appears essentially to provide an alternative way of introducing direct speech, on the same model as SAY or THINK, for example. On closer inspection, however, there appears to be a definite difference between be like quotatives and say or think quotatives. Let us compare (5) and (5a), where say is substituted for be like:

(5a) “We know you, you’re that Derrick May aren’t you?” I say, “What?”

7In (5a), the segment “What?” is proposed as a verbatim report of what the speaker said in the given circumstance. In (5), I’m like, “What?” provides the sequence “What?” as an example of something the speaker might have said or thought in the given circumstance, but does not claim to provide a word-for-word account.

  • 4 Naturally this also makes the job of searching through a corpus more fastidious than usual, since o (...)

8Quotative like is limited essentially to a familiar register of language (or written imitations thereof) and there is no clear punctuation convention available to the transcriber. And so our corpus texts vary, some using inverted commas after like (5), others not, (6) and (7), although this variation does not appear to reflect differences in the core use of the following sequence to represent an example of something the speaker might potentially have said or thought.4

9Another argument in favour of the idea that quotative like is qualitative different from quotative say or think is that, unlike these, quotative like may be used with non animate subjects:

(8) We don’t see a lot of her because our schedules clash really badly. I see her for about ten minutes a week. It’s like “Hi… bye” in the door, out of the door. COCA [S]
(9) A lot of people will envy me because they’re like,’ Oh, you get to go to all those places and so forth,’ and it’s – it ‘s like, no, no, no, we don’t – we don’t go to see these places, we go to see the tennis court at these places, the hotel room at these places, and that’s it. It’s a very dry lifestyle, in that sense COCA [S]

10Here IT is used situationally before a sequence which appears again to evoke an utterance typical of the situation. There is apparently no need to designate a speaker.

11Furthermore, quotative like is not infrequently followed by interjections, explectives or non verbal sequences which do not conceivably represent reported speech, but stand emblematically for an emotion, an attitude etc.:

(10) Even when I heard the title for the film project, I was like, “Ooh...”
(11) But I remember she stuck up for me when this guy was being aggressive. She was like, “Hey!”
(12) The worst thing I did was look inside a closet in an ex-boyfriend’s house. I was looking for something so I opened up the door, and it was a closet of ex-girlfriends. All the mementos, journals, love letters, everything. It was like, “Aaahhh!” I closed it immediately.

  • 5 Kathleen Ferrara, Kathleen and Barbar Bell, “Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Co (...)

12We might quote, in this respect, Ferrara and Bell, for whom “the prototypical case of be + like is a theatrical, highly conventionalized utterance which makes the inner state transparent to the audience”5.

13Now that we have a clearer view of the values typically constructed by quotative like, and the differences between them and other quotative verbs, let us turn to the problem of deriving this value from a schematic form which remains compatible with other values for the same marker.

An enunciative explanation for quotative uses of like

14In accordance with the principles of the Theory of Enunciative Operations, we might attempt to answer this question by outlining a schematic form for the marker like, which, according to various textual configurations, will enable us to derive specific values, including comparative, approximative and citational values as illustrated in the above examples.

A schematic form for like

15Let us consider a general case of the form: x [be] like y, illustrated by (13):

(13) In school, George was described as “aggressive… he wanders about instead of getting on with his work… he won’t conform… he’s like his brother… generally he disturbs other children.” BNC [S]

  • 6 This characterisation is close to that given in Lionel Dufaye, « Comment identifier une identificat (...)

16In relations of this type, x – the locatum – acquires further determination through its localisation relative to y – the locator –. We can rewrite this standardly as a relation of localisation: < x є y > i.e. “x is located relative to y”. Crucially, however, this determination is made in virtue of some commonly shared property z, which may or may not be made explicit. This characterisation enables us to account for the important but paradoxical nature of like which expresses both identification (the property in x is identified with property z in y) and differentiation (x is different from y). We can expand the metaoperator є to represent this schematically: < x є ( )= z э y >, that is, x is located relative to a property identifiable with property z in y.6

17And so (13) might be glossed:

(13a) George is determined by a property < x є ( ) > identical to property z in George’s brother < ( )= z э y >.

18In some cases the determining property is made explicit:

(14) He had very little ability, but immense energy. He was taut like a coiled spring, compact and pugnacious, both in physique and character.

19The use of simile in poetic discourse, on the other hand, often relies upon the implicit nature of z and the complicity which the reconstruction of z builds between poet and reader:

(15) Once when a poor man’s heifer died, he laid / A shilling on the doorsill; though a thirst / For loving shook him like a snake, he durst / Not entertain much hope of his estate / In heaven. (Robert Lowell, “After the Surprising Conversions”)
(16) Now let me lie down, under / A wide-branched indifference, / Shovel-faces like pennies / Down the back of the mind, / Find voices coined to / An argot of motor-horns, / And let the cluttered-up houses / Keep their thick lives to themselves. (Philip Larkin, “Arrivals”)

20Now, since y is the locator, and the term thanks to which property z may be inferred, the relation between y and z is preconstructed. In other words, the interpretation of the expression “x be like y” rests upon some preestablished relation between y and a property z.

21Let us now move on to consider how this basic form might be configured to provide the values associated with quotative like.

Application in quotative uses

22I would argue that the operational template for like sketched out above applies similarly to quotative uses, the difference essentially residing in the nature of the terms related. And so, in an utterance of the general form S be like, “Prop”, where “Prop” represents the quoted content, S is localised relative to the type of situation in which one might utter “Prop”. The situation of S and the situation reconstructed from “Prop” are related by the common property z. We might suggest the following configuration of our earlier formula in accordance with this:

< x є  ( )  =  z  э  y >
< S 
є  Sit  =  Sitz  э  “Prop” >.

23In other words, the locatum is the grammatical subject (whether an animate or a situational marker), the locator is a discourse sequence “Prop”, while the common property z is the situation which typically localises “Prop”. To reformulate: a subject S is localised by a situation identified with a situation potentially characterised by the utterance of “Prop”.

24Stereotypical uses

25Let us apply these remarks to a concrete example (5):

(5) “We know you, you’re that Derrick May aren’t you?” I’m like, “What?” And they’re saying, “Yes, we know who you are. We’ve got that techno album of yours and we play it all the time. We think it’s wonderful!” BNC

26Here the sequence “What?” enables us to reconstruct the type of situation in which the subject finds himself. It does not represent a genuine interrogative, although this cannot be excluded – the subject might indeed say “What?”, but rather a token of a certain type of situation representing, roughly speaking, surprise and disbelief.

27In similar fashion, in (6) I’m like wow, the sequence wow is used as a token of a situation where one might expect to say or hear “Wow” (a situation of wonder).

  • 7 Suzanne Romaine, Deborah Lange, “The use of LIKE as a marker of reported speech and thought: a case (...)

28Remarkably, in this type of utterance, a speaker relies upon his or her cospeaker’s capacity to reconstruct a virtual situation from a single utterance, thereby implying a shared knowledge of typical relationships between utterances and the situations they might characterise. This suggests that such uses are fundamentally similar to approximative uses of like, which Romaine and Lange describe as possessing: “a set marking function in that they cue the listener to interpret the preceding statement as an illustrative example of some more general case”7.

29Even when the quoted sequence is something as apparently banal as Hi, we can see a clear difference between say, “Hi” and be like, “Hi”, as the next example shows.

(17) Sometimes you won’t even know someone and the media connect you with him, “she says.” I remember being connected to Tiger Woods. I don’t know him! I met him once. It was like, “Hi, nice to meet you” and he was like, “Nice to meet you, too.” And I kept walking. And the next day, we’re together. COCA

30Here, the quotative like construction presents Hi, nice to meet you etc. not as a piece of direct speech, but as a token of an inconsequentially mundane, greeting situation, in contrast with its treatment by the paparazzi.

Non stereotypical uses

31It might be objected that, while the examples studied so far involve emblematic sequences used to evoke certain stereotyped situations, other examples of quotative like appear to represent passages of speech reported verbatim. This is arguably the case in (7) above, or in (18) and (19):

(7) He went, you’re just a drop-out, you’re just sponging off the government. I was like, shut up, Ryan. He’s like, I know your sort. BNC [S]
(18) NICE: I know I’m happy because she told me I was happy. I wake up, I’m like -- she’s like, How you feeling? I’m like, I’m a little down. She’s like, No you’re not. I’m like, That’s good.’ COCA [S]
(19) WERTHEIMER: But somebody actually offered to sell you or give you a gun? HUCK: Yeah. Someone – not that long ago. Someone’s like, You want to buy a gun from me?’ I’m like, No, what am I going to do with a gun?’ you know. WERTHEIMER: And what did they say? HUCK: They were like, Well, I have one, you know, if you want to just, you know’ – I mean, what am I supposed to say? I mean, I’m not going to take it. COCA

  • 8 Kathleen Ferrara, Barbara Bell, “Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Constructed Di (...)

32In the previously studied examples the sequences following like evoked a generic, stereotyped situation (incredulity, wonder, disgust etc.), reconstructed from a token of speech. In these examples, however, the sequences following like appear to be irreducibly specific to the situation of reference and to carry the narrative forward in the same way as say would do8.

  • 9 Ibid.
  • 10 Ibid., p. 271, my emphasis.
  • 11 This does not appear to be the case in all varieties of English: “in contrast to American English, (...)

33Accordingly, Ferrara and Bell9 claim that “the function [of BE LIKE] is expanding from its paradigmatic case as an introducer of internal dialogue to also being an introducer of constructed attitude and direct speech.”10. Ferrara and Bell’s study is based on a four-year longitudinal sample (three samples from 1990-1994). Over this period they note an increasing number of third-person subjects in be like constructions, a tendency which they assimilate to a movement grammaticalizing the be like construction as a marker of direct speech.11

34I do not, however, think that the differences between these two uses of quotative like should mask their similarities. In both cases the quoted sequence is representative of a class of potential utterances in the situation. The difference concerns the relation between the quoted sequence, “Prop” and the locating situation Sitz. In the stereotypical case of I was like, “Wow” etc., the sequence “Wow” evokes a generic situation Sitz. in much same way as one occurrence may be used to represent a class of occurrences (the generic indefinite article). In direct reported speech with like, of the type found in (8), (18) or (19), the reporting speaker signals the quoted sequence, not as verbatim report, but as representative of the reported situation among a class of possible reformulations he or she might have chosen.

  • 12 We might consider two modes of construction of a class: either as a function of spatio-temporal var (...)
  • 13 Gisele Andersen, “The role of the pragmatic marker like in utterance interpretation”, in Pragmatic (...)

35In other words, the class of occurrences, of which the quoted sequence following like provides an example, may owe its construction, either to the characteristics of the situation of reference (giving us the generic, stereotyped situation) or to those of the speech situation (since reported speech involves choosing one reformulation among a class of possibles).12 As Gisle Andersen nicely puts it: “quotative like […] stands in a non-identical relation with its original and it is metarepresentational”13.

36More generally, we might also consider the use of approximative like as evidence of a subject’s epilinguistic awareness that, in choosing one form, they are eliminating others:

(3) So I’m paying like a hundred and twenty pound a month less. BNC [S]

37Here like constructs a hundred and twenty pound a month not as a precise figure but as a rough idea of the sum involved. This tallies with our schematic form: a hundred and twenty pound a month y, is located relative to a property z, which in turn locates the complement of I’m paying ( ) x. It is unimportant to give a lexical formulation to property z, here it just indicates an order of magnitude, compatible with values in the neighbourhood of a hundred and twenty. The second, specific quotative use functions in much the same fashion.

Other issues raised by quotative like

38In the previous lines I hope to have shown how we might, firstly, provide a schematic form for like which can be parametered to account for its contemporary use as a quotative, and, secondly, how we might also distinguish between two quotative uses, again as configurations of an invariant template. The enunciative model I am using focusses on the construction of referential values but pays less attention to other questions which may be thought important. In the next section I would like to look at possible articulations between the enunciative approach and the sociolinguistic and historical issues raised by the development of quotative like.

Sociolectal uses of quotative like

  • 14 Carl Blyth et al, “I’m like, ‘Say what!’ A New Quotative in American Narrative Discourse in America (...)

39As I mentioned earlier, quotative like does not appear to be used in all varieties of English. In particular, it has been associated with the speech of teenage girls, initially from the West Coast of the USA, but is now found increasingly in other varieties of English14. In this respect, I think it unquestionable that the use of quotative like projects a certain image of the speaker, contributing something extra to the meaning of the expression. The question is whether this sociolinguistic meaning should enter into the form-value relationship we posited in part 2, and if so, where.

40I confess I am unable to provide a single answer to this, and can only explore a number of possible lines of enquiry, which might help to shed a little light on the issues involved.

41If quotative like does, as I suggest, indicate something about the speaker, it also carries indications about the speaker / co-speaker relationship (or rather the interlocutionary relationship). An important original feature of our characterisation of like in general, is the inclusion of a term z representing a common property shared by x and y. As we have seen, the interpretation of an utterance of the general form x (be) like y depends on how accessible property z is to the co-speaker. In saying x (be) like y the speaker implies that his or her co-speaker shares a frame of reference allowing for the unproblematical reconstruction of z. This is clearly exploited in poetic discourse to create frames of complicity between poet and reader, as we have noted, but also in other contexts. To illustrate this point more prosaically, let me quote the example below, which I personally find difficult to interpret, being unable to reconstruct property z from y, college or Seattle (although the example does give me a fairly clear image of the person talking and his image of his relationship with the person he is talking to).

  • 15 Cf. also : Then, it was like, “Respect, old school”, and they all shut up.

I don’t call myself a stoner anymore because that ‘s like so college, or Seattle or something […]15

42Using these terms as locators allows the speaker to impose a form of group membership on his or her co-speaker. The use of quotative like similarly implies a certain community of experience. Saying I’m like wow or I’m like aaargh to somebody implies that they will know enough about this sort of utterance to be able to reconstruct the situational properties these token utterances are meant to evoke. In short, it appears that the schematic form posited for like lends itself to the construction of areas of speaker / co-speaker complicity. In this respect there is clear scope for articulation between the enunciative perspective and sociolinguistic features of quotative like.

43Benveniste, in “Structure de la langue et structure de la société” for example, evokes these questions in the following terms:

  • 16 Émile Benveniste, « Structure de la langue et structure de la société » [1970], in Problèmes de Lin (...)

Ici apparaît une nouvelle configuration de la langue […] c’est l’inclusion du parlant dans son discours, la considération pragmatique qui pose la personne dans la société en tant que participant et qui déploie un réseau complexe de relations spatio-temporelles qui déterminent les modes d’énonciation16.

44The methodological principle of privileging the text as the trace of linguistic activity, and concentrating our attention on the (re-)construction of referential values, has perhaps led us to underplay the way in which speakers use language, consciously or not, to position themselves within society. To continue quoting Benveniste :

  • 17 Ibid.

[…] l’homme se situe et s’inclut par rapport à la société et à la nature et il se situe nécessairement dans une classe […] La langue en effet est considérée ici en tant que pratique humaine, elle révèle l’usage particulier que les groupes ou classes d’hommes font de la langue et les différenciations qui en résultent à l’intérieur de la langue commune.17

45We consider the use of quotative like as one way in which a speaker may indicate his or her position relative to a linguistic community. In this respect, it is interesting to note that time and again our research in the BNC led us to examples of quotative like tagged as W_pop_lore. The examples were invariably taken from music magazines, interviews with singers etc. and clearly involved an appeal to a commonly held, but no less exclusive, linguistic code. In the terms of Benveniste :

  • 18 Ibid., p. 100.

Chaque classe sociale s’approprie des termes généraux, leur attribue des références spécifiques et les adapte ainsi à sa propre sphère d’intérêt et souvent les constitue en base de dérivation nouvelle. À leur tour ces termes, chargés de valeurs nouvelles, entrent dans la langue commune dans laquelle ils introduisent les différenciations lexicales.18

46Benveniste talks here of lexical items and of social classes, for which we might easily substitute, in the case of quotative like, “specific constructions” and “speech communities” (without necessarily the economic reference implied by social classes).

47Another sociolinguistic function played by quotative, and approximative like, is that of deferring linguistic authority. In signalling that a locator y is being given as one in a class of terms all characteristic of property z, the speaker is leaving open the possibility of other neighbouring values, and, we might argue, encouraging the co-speaker to share in the construction of referential values, by filling in the gaps, so to speak. The undecided, unfinished character which the (over-) use of like presents to speakers like myself, might also be indicative of a more consensual mode of linguistic exchange, in which speaker endorsement is deliberately muted, or left conditional on co-speaker uptake. This relates, interestingly, to remarks made in quite a different register, by Jespersen, and quoted in Romaine and Lange:

  • 19 Otto Jespersen, Otto, A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles. Part VI. Morphology. Copen (...)

48Approximative like is “very much used in colloquial and vulgar language to modify the whole of one’s statement, a word or phrase modestly indicating that one’s choice of words was not perhaps, quite felicitous. It is generally used by inferiors addressing superiors.”19

  • 20 Similar considerations in literary criticism have led to the narratological concept of the implied (...)
  • 21 « Il nous faut poser au cœur de l’activité de langage (qu’il s’agisse de représentation ou de régul (...)

49Putting aside the normative tone of the passage – refreshing or depressing, according to your point of view –, Jespersen’s remarks provide evidence of the way in which approximative like, in deferring linguistic authority, may also mirror extra-linguistic roles of authority between individuals. In keeping with our earlier comments, while it is important to avoid mixing indiscriminately the concepts of speaker (or énonciateur), as the ultimate source of enunciative coordinates, and locutor (locuteur) as the person, the talker or writer, physically responsible for the linguistic phenomenon, it is equally important to recognise that some linguistic forms – starting with something as basic as the tu / vous division – force us to recognize these interlocutionary roles from the outset and to seek to account for them20. The sociolinguistic aspects of quotative like may only be partially explained by the schematic form we have put forward for like: interlocutionary adjustment and regulation21 also have their role to play.

Hypotheses for the diachronic development of quotative like

50The previous section looked at questions one might ask about the use of quotative like in different speakers, in different places and different circumstances. We might additionally ask ourselves how such a use might have developed diachronically.

  • 22 Cf. Frédéric Lab, “Is AS like LIKE or Does LIKE Look like AS”, in Les opérations de détermination Q (...)

51While enunciative linguists, myself included, often refer to, and draw inspiration from etymological data22, it is not always easy to situate this in a principled manner with respect to the schematic form we attribute to markers. When one marker is used in different ways at t and at t + 1 we have two options before us: either we consider that the schematic form has altered in some way, or we prefer to consider that what has changed are the configurations of an invariant schematic form. Neither option is really satisfactory: if the schematic form can be altered, then the very principle of its invariability is threatened, but if it is only the configurations that can change, this would limit us to a static, and finite pool of schematic forms, which again seems an unnecessary and unrealistic constraint, difficult to reconcile with what we know of language change.

52In the current paper, I have taken the second option, considering quotative like as one possible configuration of a schematic form, one possible instantiation of the variables x, y and z. There nonetheless remain the questions of why such a configuration should have developed, and why in the twentieth century and not before.

  • 23 Cf. Brian Joseph, “Hittite war, wa(r) and Sanskrit iva”, in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachfor (...)
  • 24 Cf. Brian Joseph, Lawrence Schourup, “More on i-wa(r)”,in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforsc (...)
  • 25 http://indiasinsights.com/fr/2011/05/24/jdm-journée-de-merde-/: consulted 18.11.2011.
  • 26 We might also mention the non standard use of markers of manner HOW or AS, in indirect reported spe (...)

53The use of markers of similarity or approximation in reporting speech is attested in other languages. Joseph23 and Joseph and Schourup24 claim a common origin for the Hittite quotative particle -war and adverbial -iwar (“like”), and give examples of similar links in other languages, including Buang (New Guinea), Lahu (Tibet) or Tok Pisin (New Guinea). Closer to home, French uses genre in emblematic quotatives of a similar type to those studied here (« là il me regarde genre pauvre fille »25), while Canadian French has an être comme construction along the same lines as quotative like.26

54This affinity between markers of approximation and reported speech would appear to correspond to the fact that reported speech is not a strict repetition, but a necessarily subjective reconstruction of a speech event, with the margin for error and approximation that involves. As Romaine and Lange, for example, remind us:

  • 27 Suzanne Romaine, Deborah Lange, “The use of LIKE as a marker of reported speech and thought: a case (...)

In so far as each utterance of a speaker constitutes a unique speech event realized in its own characteristic idiolect, comprising idiosyncrasies of accent, grammar, prosody, and the like, even direct speech can only be an imperfect attempt at rendering some of the features which make any utterance unique.27

55And so quotative like is not an isolated case, but part of a larger cross-language phenomenon where markers of similarity or approximation show a certain predisposition for introducing reported speech.

56There remains the question of why such a configuration should have developed in the second-half of the twentieth century and not before. I do not pretend to have the answer, and one may indeed consider it to be just a question of chance. Two features nonetheless appear particularly important to me: the rise of the popular mass media and the corresponding spread of a shared cultural model.

  • 28 In this consideration, Ferrara and Bell mention Carbaugh (1988), who sees “a general American tende (...)

57We have seen how quotative like relies for its interpretation upon the accessibility of a relation between a token utterance (Wow, Aaargh, Hey etc.) and a stereotyped situation. I would argue that such relations involve an appeal to a commonly held dramaturgical culture. I wonder then, if the development of quotative like and the stereotyped situations it often evokes, might not parallel the development of the popular mass media, and soap operas even, with their inevitable repository of situation-types. Such a hypothesis would also help to account for the geographical development of quotative like as more and more areas of the English speaking world acquire access to the same frames of reference and rework this into their discourse in similar ways. The process would undoubtedly be helped along by the imitation of a linguistic model possessing what sociolinguists would call covert prestige. The argument may seem a little far-fetched, from the enunciative perspective we are used to, but it does pose the problem of the articulation between our modes of analysis of a linguistic phenomenon such as quotative like and the cultural and ethnological context in which the phenomenon appears.28

Concluding remarks

58Let me run briefly over the ground covered in the previous paragraphs. I began by presenting the uses of quotative like in contemporary English, going on to show that such uses are, despite our first impressions, rather different, in terms of referential values and sociolinguistically, from a discourse verb such as say. We then saw that it is possible to posit an enunciative analysis of quotative like which derives these quotative values as one possible configuration of an invariant schematic form associated with the marker like. In addition to the construction of referential values, quotative like also carries sociolinguistic implications, the formalisation of which requires us to reconsider and possibly to rehabilitate in our analysis the relation between speaker and locutor. The sociolinguistic meanings carried by quotative like are closely tied to the historical development of the construction. If enunciative linguistics is to consider questions of language change, then it also becomes important to find ways of articulating our approach with those of neighbouring disciplines, including ethnography or social psychology.

59These tasks are necessary but not, in my view, insurmountable. They provide us with new challenges and open new paths for future research.

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Davies, Mark, “BYU-BNC” (Based on the British National Corpus from Oxford University Press), 2004. Available online at http://corpus.byu.edu/bnc/.

Dufaye, Lionel, « Comment identifier une identification? », in Cycnos, Volume 21 n° 1, on line 25 July 2005, URL: http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/index.html?id=23.

Ferrara, Kathleen and Bell, Barbara, “Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Constructed Dialogue Introducers: The Case of Be + like”, in American Speech, 1995, p. 265-290.

Jespersen, Otto, A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles. Part VI. Morphology. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard, London, Allen and Unwin Publishers, 1942.

Joseph, Brian, “Hittite war, wa(r) and Sanskrit iva”, in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, n° 95, Göttingen: Vanderhoeck and Ruprecht, 1981, p. 93-98.

Joseph, Brian and Schourup, Lawrence,. “More on i-wa(r)”, in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, n° 96, Göttingen: Vanderhoeck and Ruprecht, 1983, p. 56-58.

Lab, Frédérique, “Is AS like LIKE or Does LIKE Look like AS”, in Les opérations de détermination QNT / QLT, Gap, Éditions Ophrys, 1999.

Ranger, Graham, “Adjustments and readjustements: operations and markers”. Article submitted for publication for the workshop on adjustment, Université de Rouen 11 juin 2010.

Romaine, Suzanne and Lange, Deborah, “The use of LIKE as a marker of reported speech and thought: a case of grammaticalization in progress”, in American Speech, 1991, p. 227-279.

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Tannen, Deborah, “Introducing Constructed Dialogue in Greek and American Conversational and Literary Narrative”, in Coulmas (ed) (1986), 1986, p. 311-32.

Tagliamonte, Sali and Hudson, Rachel, “Be like et al. beyond America: The quotative system in British and Canadian youth”, in Journal of Sociolinguistics 3/2, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1999. p. 147-172.

Underhill, Robert, “Like is like, focus”, American Speech, n° 63, 1988, p. 234-246.

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Notes

1 Cf. Robert Underhill (1988) for a study of this and related uses.

2 Voir Bernstein, Richard, “For ‘Teenspeak,’ Like Another Meaning for the Multipurposeful ‘Like’” in The New York Times, August 25, 1988.

3 Blyth, Carl, Recktenwald, Sigrid, Wang, Jenny, “I’m like, ‘Say what!’ A New Quotative in American Narrative Discourse in American”, Speech, n° 65, 1990, p. 224.

4 Naturally this also makes the job of searching through a corpus more fastidious than usual, since one must search for the sequences <like, >, <like ”>, <like: >, etc.

5 Kathleen Ferrara, Kathleen and Barbar Bell, “Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Constructed Dialogue Introducers: The Case of Be + like” in American Speech, 1995, p. 282.

6 This characterisation is close to that given in Lionel Dufaye, « Comment identifier une identification ? », in Cycnos, Volume 21, n°1, on line 25 July 2005, URL : http://revel.unice.fr/cycnos/index.html?id=23. the significant difference being the appeal here to a third term, z, which obviates the need to include qualitative and quantitative determinations in the schematic form, as Dufaye proposes.

7 Suzanne Romaine, Deborah Lange, “The use of LIKE as a marker of reported speech and thought: a case of grammaticalization in progress”, in American Speech, 1991, p. 248.

8 Kathleen Ferrara, Barbara Bell, “Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Constructed Dialogue Introducers: The Case of Be + like”, op. cit., 1995, p. 279.

9 Ibid.

10 Ibid., p. 271, my emphasis.

11 This does not appear to be the case in all varieties of English: “in contrast to American English, in both British and Canadian English BE LIKE is still highly localized, being used for non-lexicalized sound or internal dialogue and for first person subjects” (Sali Tagliamonte, Rachel Hudson, “Be like et al. beyond America: The quotative system in British and Canadian youth”, in Journal of Sociolinguistics 3/2, Oxford, Blackwell, 1999, p.166).

12 We might consider two modes of construction of a class: either as a function of spatio-temporal variables (a different time and place may produce a different utterance) or as a function of subjective variables (different speakers may report things differently).

13 Gisele Andersen, “The role of the pragmatic marker like in utterance interpretation”, in Pragmatic Markers and Propositional Attitude, Andersen, G. and Fretheim, T. (ed.), Amsterdam, John Benjamins, 2000, p. 33.

14 Carl Blyth et al, “I’m like, ‘Say what!’ A New Quotative in American Narrative Discourse in American”, op. cit., Kathleen Ferrara and Barbara Bell, “Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Constructed Dialogue Introducers: The Case of Be + like”, op. cit., Sali Tagliamonte and Rachel Hudson, “Be like et al. beyond America: The quotative system in British and Canadian youth”, op. cit.

15 Cf. also : Then, it was like, “Respect, old school”, and they all shut up.

16 Émile Benveniste, « Structure de la langue et structure de la société » [1970], in Problèmes de Linguistique Générale, Gallimard: Paris, 1974, p. 99.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid., p. 100.

19 Otto Jespersen, Otto, A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles. Part VI. Morphology. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard, London, Allen and Unwin, 1942, p. 417-418 quoted in Suzanne Romaine and Deborah Lange, “The use of LIKE as a marker of reported speech and thought: a case of grammaticalization in progress”, op. cit., p. 246.

20 Similar considerations in literary criticism have led to the narratological concept of the implied author, cf. Schmid (2011).

21 « Il nous faut poser au cœur de l’activité de langage (qu’il s’agisse de représentation ou de régulation) l’ajustement, ce qui implique à la fois, la stabilité et la déformabilité d’objets pris dans des relations dynamiques, la construction de domaines, d’espaces et de champs où les sujets auront le jeu nécessaire à leur activité d’énonciateurs-locuteurs. » (Culioli, Antoine, Pour une linguistique de l’énonciation, Tome 1, Gap, Éditions Ophrys, 1990, p. 129).

22 Cf. Frédéric Lab, “Is AS like LIKE or Does LIKE Look like AS”, in Les opérations de détermination QNT / QLT, Gap, Éditions Ophrys, 1999, p. 91-92. On the subject of like, for example.

23 Cf. Brian Joseph, “Hittite war, wa(r) and Sanskrit iva”, in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, n°95, Göttingen, Vanderhoeck and Ruprecht, 1981, p. 93-98.

24 Cf. Brian Joseph, Lawrence Schourup, “More on i-wa(r)”,in Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Sprachforschung, n°96, Göttingen: Vanderhoeck and Ruprecht, 1983.

25 http://indiasinsights.com/fr/2011/05/24/jdm-journée-de-merde-/: consulted 18.11.2011.

26 We might also mention the non standard use of markers of manner HOW or AS, in indirect reported speech in English (He said how he had noticed the barometer… [BNC]).

27 Suzanne Romaine, Deborah Lange, “The use of LIKE as a marker of reported speech and thought: a case of grammaticalization in progress”, in American Speech, 1991, p. 229.

28 In this consideration, Ferrara and Bell mention Carbaugh (1988), who sees “a general American tendency towards lionization of self-revelation as a preferred cultural mode” (“Sociolinguistic Variation and Discourse Function of Constructed Dialogue Introducers: The Case of Be + like”, op. cit., p. 283).

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Référence électronique

Graham Ranger, « Quotative LIKE in contemporary non standard English », Arts et Savoirs [En ligne], 2 | 2012, mis en ligne le 15 juillet 2012, consulté le 22 juillet 2017. URL : http://aes.revues.org/513 ; DOI : 10.4000/aes.513

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Auteur

Graham Ranger

Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse, EA4277

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Centre de recherche LISAA (Littératures SAvoirs et Arts)

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