Research Programs: Fellowships

Period of Performance

1/1/2022 - 12/31/2022

Funding Totals

$60,000.00 (approved)
$60,000.00 (awarded)

I Hate When You Say That! Exploring the rise, reign and significant cultural value of our most pilloried linguistic quirks

FAIN: FEL-281445-22

Valerie M. Fridland
University of Nevada, Reno (Reno, NV 89557-0001)

Research and writing leading to a book for the general reader on modern American language phenomena and how cultural resistance to such colloquial speech is indicative of larger racial, gender, generational, and class differences.

This request outlines a book project that unpacks the history behind and linguistic processes that drive what’s changing in the language around us, and the negative consequences of steadfastly adhering to a doctrine of linguistic prescriptivism and bias. Informed by a theoretical linguistic perspective but written for a lay audience, the book will argue that our most popular and pilloried linguistic quirks are really about our immense capacity for social adaptivity. Each chapter takes on a particularly maligned and misunderstood speech feature and uses it as a springboard into a larger discussion of how language changes, noting how cultural biases and language forms become interwoven. By offering historical analysis and insight from contemporary research, the book offers a unique perspective that language is more than just structure, more than just grammar, that what we tend to deride as imperfections and unwelcome changes are integral to its larger communicative purpose.

Media Coverage

Like Literally Dude Kirkus review (Review)
Publication: Kirkus Review
Date: 2/15/2023

'Like Literally Dude' WSJ Review: Learning to Chill (Review)
Author(s): Dave Shiflett
Publication: Wall Street Journal
Date: 5/12/2023
Abstract: Positive review of the book in the Saturday Review section

NPR 1A: Arguing for the Good in Bad English (Media Coverage)
Publication: NPR 1A
Date: 4/21/2023
Abstract: Featured guest for full 1 hour radio program

NPR Here and Now (Media Coverage)
Publication: NPR/WBUR
Date: 4/25/2023

English evolves, like it or not (Media Coverage)
Publication: Alan Alda's Clear and Vivid podcast
Date: 4/17/2023

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard (Media Coverage)
Date: 7/6/2023
Abstract: Armchair Expert Podcast guest

The kings english:forgeddabouddit (Review)
Publication: Literary Review UK
Date: 11/17/2023

Like Literally Dude Review (Review)
Publication: Library Journal
Date: 3/1/2023

Associated Products

Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English (Book)
Title: Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English
Author: Valerie Fridland
Abstract: Paranoid about the “ums” and “uhs” that pepper your presentations? Concerned that people notice your vocal fry? Bewildered by “hella” or the meteoric rise of “so”? What if these features of our speech weren’t a sign of cultural and linguistic degeneration, but rather, some of the most dynamic and revolutionary tools at our disposal? In Like, Literally, Dude, linguist Valerie Fridland shows how we can re-imagine these forms as exciting new linguistic frontiers rather than our culture’s impending demise. With delightful irreverence and expertise built over two decades of research, Fridland weaves together history, psychology, science, and laugh-out-loud anecdotes to explain why we speak the way we do today, and how that impacts what our kids may be saying tomorrow. She teaches us that language is both function and fashion, and that though we often blame the young, the female, and the uneducated for its downfall, we should actually thank them for their linguistic ingenuity. By exploring the dark corners every English teacher has taught us to avoid, Like, Literally, Dude redeems our most pilloried linguistic quirks, arguing that they are fundamental to our social, professional, and romantic success—perhaps even more so than our clothing or our resumes. It explains how filled pauses benefit both speakers and listeners; how the use of “dude” can help people bond across social divides; why we’re always trying to make our intensifiers ever more intense; as well as many other language tics, habits, and developments. Language change is natural, built into the language system itself, and we wouldn’t be who we are without it. Like, Literally, Dude celebrates the dynamic, ongoing, and empowering evolution of language.
Year: 2023
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Publisher website for the book
Publisher: Penguin RandomHouse (Viking/penguin imprints)
ISBN: 9780593298329
Copy sent to NEH?: No