Just Like Parsley

The Italian language is full of colourful idiomatic expressions and over the last 20 years, I have collected many that relate to cooking and food. Essere come prezzemolo, to be like parsley, is a very visual example of this, which roughly signifies ‘ to be everywhere, to be present in different places and situations, or in many institutions, such as parsley, which is widely used in many different recipes. It also means to put oneself in the middle, to interrupt things, to meddle’.

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I am a great fan of parsley and I also enjoy a good simile. What I no longer like, nor even tolerate, is the misuse of the word ‘like‘ in the written context. Just like parsley, the misuse of this word interrupts and gets in the way, is common and overused.

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You will probably hear this ubiquitous language filler, stutter, speech impediment, spilling out of the mouths of teenagers. Travelling on trams or trains in teen hour, I become aurally fixated ( not much choice in a crowded tram) with the dreaded ‘like‘ word. It seems that young people today cannot utter a sentence or phrase without copious sprinklings of  ‘like‘ between each and every other word.  No, these ‘likes‘ are not used as similes, nor are they expressions of enjoyment or desire. They are not used to compare anything in particular. They have become a speech disorder a little akin to Tourette’s syndrome. I sometimes find myself counting the number of ‘likes‘ that appear in one sentence. The record stands at 19. I  also wonder whether these young people will be able to succeed in interviews, and whether they can turn off the ‘like ‘ button when under stress.

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We tolerate this in the young. Perhaps it’s a bonding word, a generational code, despite the stammering effect on expressive language. At what age should one grow out of the ‘like‘ phenomena? I ponder this question when I hear the occasional adult hampered by its overuse.

Seeing the word used, deliberately chosen, in writing, such as in popular blogs, makes my ‘like‘ meter go right off the radar.Image

Please make the word go away and save our language from annihilation. Just like parsley, it’s everywhere.

By the way, that parsley salad, straight from Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’ is a real winner, and what would a lovely salsa verde be without parsley?

Feel free to comment, I won’t bite! grrrrr

22 thoughts on “Just Like Parsley”

  1. You’re right! It’s quite astounding, listening to this generational tic – I’d been shielded from it, in Paradise, but have been amazed – often appalled – to hear rashes of it, in the conversation of otherwise well educated younger people, even on vox pop interviews on TV! But “Essere come prezzemolo” on the other hand – a delightful and delicious trope. 🙂

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    1. Young Italians who come to stay with me have also picked up this ‘tic’ when they speak in English but of course, not in their own language. Shielded in Paradise- nice expression. Sri Lanka or Venice?

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      1. Oh dear, I hate to think of those young people taking the like tic back to spread among other English speakers in their schools! Paradise is what I call Sri Lanka. Strange how these two places – so different in every respect – have captured my heart! 🙂

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  2. I’ve liked this post, Francesca… but cannot abide the use of the word ‘like’ mid sentence, it really is irritating and such an abuse of the English language. Love your recipe, Ottolenghi is a favourite!

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  3. I must post that recipe, for those who don’t own the book. Other than lots of parsley, the marinade for the fetta is the extraordinary element in the dish. I am pleased that you also find this word irritating. I am now finding it written too often in ( mostly) American food blogs which is a reason for me to ‘unsubscibe’ from them.

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  4. Oh, how right you are! It is painful sometimes, watching someone try to speak a thought while using ‘like’ every second or third utterance. Just read a blog post about overuse of the word ‘awesome’ which is nearly as bad. Spare us. Love that Italian phrase, have never heard it before, excellent simile!

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  5. Yes, awesome can become tiresome. Especially when used for ordinary ( non – awesome) things. And let’s not forget ‘Amazing’ , said with a certain breathlessness.

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  6. Yes, I agree about the overuse of the word. It is used almost without meaning – as a kind of punctuation separating fragments of thought. What is more worrying is the trend in media that caters to this fragmentation of thought. However, using the word in its proper meaning, I LIKE your photos of lovely, lacy parsley.

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  7. I am obsessed with Ottolenghi and I do love this particular salad! But yes, I completely and utterly agree with the overuse of the word ‘like’. I have caught myself doing the same thing a few times (being Gen Y myself, don’t punch me!) but I check it and stop. Not sure how language ended up evolving this way but it drives me crazy!! Argh! I feel your pain xx

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    1. Good to hear you trying to stop the ‘like’ thing interfering and mucking around with your sentences. We all have this at times. I suggested a ‘like’ jar – everyone adds a coin to the jar when they misuse the word. The idea went down like a lead balloon with the Gen Y set.

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    1. No, although my daughter rolled her eyes as she read my post, and she doesn’t even use the word inappropriately. The conversation went like this,” finish reading this post, or you don’t get a glass of wine, and I don’t look after your children any more.” Grumpy voices need to be heard. No more 70s Valley Talk spoiling the English language.

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  8. I think I’m a Gen Y’r that is a little guilty of the ‘amazing’ and ‘awesome’ overuse, but I’m with you on the ‘like’ issue. Once I hear someone repeat it, it becomes all I hear, I almost start counting the times it is said with my irritation increasing with each reptiition. That said I’ll start to work on my own overuse affliction immediately…

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