Friday, November 25, 2016

Like, What?

Like, it's changed:
Like has become a piece of grammar: It is the source of the suffix -ly. To the extent that slowly means “in a slow fashion,” as in “with the quality of slowness,” it is easy (and correct) to imagine that slowly began as “slow-like,” with like gradually wearing away into a -ly suffix. That historical process is especially clear in that there are still people who, colloquially, say slow-like, angry-like. Technically, like yielded two suffixes, because -ly is also used with adjectives, as in portly and saintly. Again, the pathway from saint-like to saint- ly is not hard to perceive.

Like has become a part of compounds. Likewise began as like plus a word, wise, which was different from the one meaning “smart when either a child or getting old.” This other wise meant “manner”: Likewise meant “similar in manner.” This wise disappeared as a word on its own, and so now we think of it as a suffix, as in clockwise and stepwise. But we still have likeminded, where we can easily perceive minded as having independent meaning. Dictionaries tell us it’s pronounced “like-MINE-did,” but I, for one, say “LIKE- minded” and have heard many others do so.
Like, that's what it's all about...

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