I’m Like, OMG, What Happened to “I’m All”??

Wow, I didn’t realize this. In today’s “On Language” column, Nathan Bierma reports that a locution that’s the bane of many sticklers’ existence may in fact be on the way out:

A recent study in the journal American Speech, by Stanford University linguist John Rickford and three co-authors, looks at what linguists call the “quotative” use of “all” — when the word “all” introduces a quotation, as in, “I’m all, ‘No way.'” This usage showed up in American English in the early 1990s, Rickford says, but it’s now giving way to an equally informal quote signal: the word “like,” as in, “He was like, ‘No.'”

. . . . But now, “I’m all” is starting to disappear, the American Speech study says. In a 2005 survey of California high school and college students, Rickford and a team of researchers at Stanford University found that the quotative use of “all” had plummeted since the early 1990s. In their study, speakers used “all” less than 5 percent of the time they introduced quotations, down from 45 percent in 1994. “All” had even fallen behind the word “said,” which was used 12 percent of the time.

What do you think? Will you be all upset about the demise of “I’m all”?

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