University of Limerick
Farrell_2004_pragmatic.pdf (2.1 MB)

The use of the pragmatic marker 'like' by Irish teenagers: Is it a girl thing?

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posted on 2023-02-20, 12:52 authored by Angela Farrell
The innovative use of 'like' as a pragmatic marker has generated much discussion in linguistic circles in recent times. This study sets out to explore this linguistic phenomenon, typically associated with teenagers and teenage girls in particular, in an Irish-English setting, in an attempt to determine how the marker is used by young Irish speakers and whether gender differentiated patterns of usage prevail, as has been suggested in some previous accounts. The findings of this research show that Irish teenagers use 'like' as a pragmatic marker in both an older, traditional pattern as in, 'I don't want any 'like' 'and in the newer American usage, as in, 'she's 'like' so weird'; with the latter type dominating teenage speech, although there is no evidence of gender bias for the general use of the marker in either of the two traditions of usage. 'Like' is used pragmatically to mark off a discrepancy between a speaker's thought and its conceptualisation and as a result, contributes to utterance interpretation. It also acts as a marker of minimum politeness and as such reflects the broader socio-cultural context of use. Thus, 'like' plays a unique pragmatic role in the discourse of young Irish-English speakers.



  • Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences


  • Master (Taught)

First supervisor

Fiona Farr





Department or School

  • Scoil na Gaeilge, an Bhéarla, agus na Cumarsáide | School of English, Irish, and Communication

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    Master (Taught)


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