One bloody thumb to the imp’s contract and like was erased from her speech. Her boss promoted her. Her friends heard each absence as a pain.

 I study under a professor who’s dedicated part of her career to “like”. Even though prescriptivists love to make fun of it in women, “like” is not especially correlated with gender overall, but with youth, and it plays an important role in cognition and discourse, like most other parts of talk that grammarians deride as purposeless. It’s well-established in sociolinguistics that, through speech, we manifest our identity to our peers and mark ourselves as part of a group. How often are people on the wrong side of a power dynamic told to alter their speech toward an imaginary ideal, something much less like us, and less like the people dear to us? What are the implications of telling people to prune language that they use to demonstrate who they are? // Personal Note from the Author

//Meghan Cunningham writes and studies linguistics in British Columbia. She can be found on Twitter and WordPress as @separatrices.//