“Smart and funny—I loved it!" —Mignon Fogarty, author of New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

A lively linguistic exploration of the speech habits we love to hate—and why our “like”s  and “literally”s actually make us better communicators

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, and it will speak to anyone who talks, or listens, inspiring them to communicate dynamically and effectively in their daily lives.
Praise for Like, Literally, Dude:

"A smart and detailed apologia for speech habits that 'violate our sense of linguistic decorum'. . . . Scholarly yet accessible, and often very witty, this is a winning look at how language evolves."—Publishers Weekly

“Valerie Fridland knows everything you ever wondered about language. With a parade of revelations in each chapter, she will have you texting your friends with mind-blowing tidbits.”—Mignon Fogarty, author of New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
“Language lovers and grammar lovers alike will revel in Fridland’s scientifically informed—and humane—perspective on the linguistic habits you love to use or love to hate. You’ll never think the same way about others’—or your own—sprinkling of likes and y’knows, dudes and vocal fry. Thanks to Fridland, you’ll ask not what grammar rule is being broken but what social purpose is being served.” —Deborah Tannen, university professor of linguistics, Georgetown University, and New York Times best-selling author of You Just Don't Understand and You're Wearing THAT?
“Did you know that it was women who started saying ‘I’ve got to’ more than ‘must,’ or that the -in’ in words like singin’ isn’t short for -ing but for something else in Old English? Like, Literally, Dude will give you the lowdown on that as  well as the words in its title. Endless wisdom.” —John McWhorter, author of Nine Nasty Words and host of the podcast Lexicon Valley
“Convinced that English is dying before your eyes? Never fear—Like, Literally, Dude is here to help you lose your language blues. In this deft, eye-opening narrative, linguist Valerie Fridland wittily illuminates the social and historical forces behind some of our more vilified language habits. It will leave you marveling at human linguistic inventiveness.” —Ellen Jovin, author of Rebel with a Clause
“That rare gem that combines authoritative scholarship with engaging readability. Through a series of stories on the historical origins and social uses of an array of ‘annoying’ language features, Fridland shows us how they actually serve to enrich the English language.” —Natalie Schilling, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and creator of The Great Courses’ English in America