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9 Comments

  • Nice post Michael – and of course in the same way ‘favourite (favorite’) is taking on a new mantle courtesy of Twitter, now converted to verb, similarly non-stative and possible in progressive forms, etc …As a noun in this sense, it’s not so much ‘the thing you like best’, but more of a virtual thumbs up or expression of approval.

  • And translating things like “Like us on Facebook” into languages that employ the reverse construction is a proper nightmare. Thanks, Middle English!

  • You’re spot on about ‘like’ + ‘that’-clause being an emerging pattern; it could be a shortened form of ‘I like it that’ (“I like it that the jeans have no weird knee patches”) – with a dummy ‘it’ – which is a more established pattern. The verbs ‘want’ and ‘love’ seem to be going the same way, as well as the adjective ‘fine’ (“I’m totally fine that we have drugs companies innovating new products” (Ben Goldacre)). It’s fascinating that such very basic verb patterns are changing – I can’t imagine what mechanisms of language change are favouring the selection of a ‘that’-clause for this particular meaning group.

  • Me again – forgot to mention that as you know there’s another major change in the use of ‘like’ – sense 4 in the dictionary: “He sounded like he’d only just woken up” – where ‘like’ is a conjunction with the meaning ‘as if’. This sense has cautiously been labelled ‘spoken’, though many of the usual prescriptivists angrily declare it to be downright WRONG. I’m fine with it and use it all the time, but in writing I stick to ‘as if’ – it’s a generational thing. ‘Like’ will surely take over completely from ‘as if’ in this sense, and sooner or later the ‘spoken’ label will be dropped.

  • Art: thanks for the YouTube link – well worth following, I hadn’t seen it before – and i’m one of those people who ‘like’ Joseph O’Connor’s books.