That multifacet English like: how do you like it?
Elena А. Vikulova – Ekaterina S. Chiglintseva
The article is devoted to the English word like, its semantics and functions. It is derived from the Proto-Germanic root lik in galika ‘having the same form or body’. In the course of time the meaning of physical similarity underwent such processes as semantic bleaching and subjectification, which gave rise to the development of various lexico-grammatical and pragmatic functions. It is difficult to draw clear lines of demarcation between its traditional formal functions associated with such parts of speech as conjunction, preposition, particle and its pragmatic functions, such as emphatic, hesitational, metalinguistic, examplificatory, quotative, approximative. The latter express various subjective and abstract shades of meaning. The authors analyze them with reference to pragmatics, drawing on the theories of politeness, relevance and subjectification. Most scholars define like in these pragmatic functions as ‘discourse marker’; however, lexicographers refer to the word like in these discursive functions as ‘adverb’. The authors carried out research into the stylistic reference of the word like in its various functions. The text analysis of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and the Nature journal articles has shown that the formal and pragmatic like is prevalent in the work of fiction, especially in the parts presenting conversations; it has also revealed that such uses are absent in scientific texts.
Key words: like, etymology, desemantization, pragmatic functions, discourse marker, pragmatics, subjectification.