Mesthrie et al. (Introducing Sociolinguistics 2nd ed., 2009:117-8) discuss “three newer uses” of like, the “quotative” use (I’m like why did you do that), the use of like as a hedge (My parents like hate you) and the use of like as a discourse particle (I‘m like really struggling with this assignment).
But we find examples of this usage already in novels by Kingsley Amis:
- this old like parchment says any motherfucker digs me up (Jake’s Thing, 1978)
- I mean, you know, like really believe it? (Jake’s Thing, 1978)
And even earlier than that, in One Fat Englishman (1963):
- Or rather … find, like, seem to think she wanted to stick to?
In this novel Amis contrasts British with American ways, regularly commenting on language in the process. In doing so, would he have picked up an earlier instance of usage? Even the instances in Jake’s Thing suggest that the newer usage was already in evidence before the 1980s.