Isn’t the perception of LIKE by California college students, like, paradoxical?
Keywords:LIKE, perception, stigma, gender, social meaning, Valley Girl, stereotype, California
This paper examines how California college students perceive vernacular functions of the word LIKE. It aims at testing the hypothesis that LIKE may potentially induce stigma because it can be perceived as a ‘female’ marker. Four versions of a short text were created from an original source. Texts featured either 30 occurrences of LIKE, 20, 10, or none at all. 123 participants were recruited and were asked to read only one version. They were then asked to rate their perception of the anonymous utterer on six variables: age, pleasantness, friendliness, education, competence, and gender. Finally, they were asked to describe what they associate with the speech style of a stereotypical persona: the Valley Girl. Results suggest that the number of LIKE in a text does not significantly influence the perception of an anonymous utterer, though participants do associate it with Valley Girl speak (Valspeak). Paradoxically, some participants report they despise the word LIKE but no evidence suggests they actually do stigmatize it in the perception study.
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