There’s an app called LikeSo to help you erase the word ‘like’ from your speech

But who even uses ‘like’ any more?

For a period in my teens, I inserted “like” before every adjective I used. Obviously, it was humiliating to sound sincere, or certain of anything. It was lame to sound clever, and caring wasn’t cool.

The cringing, self-consciousness disappeared with age, though “like” remained part of my vocabulary. Every time I returned home from university, my Dad would do an exaggerated eye-roll when I used the word, as though I was supposed to have had it ‘educated out of me’ by now.

Now, I don’t spend much time thinking about the word “like” – I probably use it more than I ought to grammatically speaking, but it has assimilated into my vocabulary, fluidly. I certainly don’t insert it purposefully any more as some verbal signifier of just how much I don’t, like, give a shit.

But I thought about it this morning when I discovered that someone has launched an app to help eradicate time-filler phrases, like “like”. It’s called LikeSo. I probably haven’t said like so many times in a paragraph since, like 2006.

The app is billed as a tool to “improve public speaking and presentation skills by training against the epidemic “like, ya know” syndrome and other verbal habits, including optimal pacing for the fast or slow talker.” There are two modes: TalkAbout – which is for practising your speech off the cuff – or FreeStyle, which is an open mic for practising a specific speech. It analyses the results, informs on your “filler words” and helps you to steel your mind and mouth against them.

“LikeSo is for your next presentation, audition, interview, meeting, date, debate – and even your next conversation.”

I’m not convinced it’s an insidious tool of the thought police, but nor do I think it could ever be particularly effective in homogenising our language. Chiefly, because in the last few years – with the growth of the quick quip patter finessed on the internet, there are too many verbal tics for too many different conversations. “Like” used to be the obvious example – but now there isn’t just one. Language shifts to quickly to capture any single word – I hazard that even if I recorded every single one of my conversations, the app wouldn’t be able to pick up a measurable pattern in my speech, or identify one single word I need to stop using.

Because I mean, there’s “I mean”. Sure, I use that one to start a lot of texts. Oh obviously there’s sure. And obviously – which is literally one of my most used words, basically. So, basically too. To be honest so is to be fair, and essentially that’s the problem.

That patter is part of the 21st century, and there’s not an app for that.