It's, like, not cool to misuse 'like'

Published: May 5 2010 | 12:04 pm - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 12:24 am in
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IOWA CITY — Like something a little too much in Phil Davies’ class and it could cost you.

The assistant business professor at the University of Iowa doesn’t mind his students’ fondness for certain things, but does protest their overuse of the word “like” — so much so that this semester he started a fine jar to curb the word.

“I’m fed up with listening to students misuse the word ‘like,’” said Davies, 31, who is in his third year of teaching at the university. “When you listen to professionals talk, they don’t talk like that.”

Throughout the regular semester, which ended Monday, students “raised” $425, which will be donated to Habitat for Humanity, Davies said.

The jar appeared in his two sections of undergraduate investments classes where, he said, the problem seemed to be the worst. As students age and get closer to starting their careers, he said, they seem to speak more professionally.

Each time a student misused the word “like” in Davies’ class they were asked to put a dollar in the jar. To add to the challenge Davies also fined students — and himself — for swearing.

 “When they say ‘like’ and you point it out, the next word is usually, ‘sh--,’ so you get two dollars,” Davies said.

Students were offered a “pay-in-advance” option, Davies said. If they knew they’d be piling up the fines, students could pay $10 for the semester which absolved them from any other fines.

For some students, that option sounded much better after they’d already paid $7 or $8 in fines.

 “They came in and then paid the $10 prepay and were good for the rest of the semester,” Davies said.

Davies said he doesn’t know how the students do during the rest of their day but during his class, at least, “like” isn’t as popular as it once was.

 “I suspect we’ll test that improvement next year,” he said.

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