Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

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Evolution of language

owlfish is musing on the phrase, "What am I like?" (also found in the form, "What are you like?"). For those not familiar with it, this is a rhetorical device used after the speaker (or the person referred to if it's said in the second or third person form) has done something silly. Several people have suggested it's Northern British English, more precisely from Manchester, but if so it's a new phrase that I don't remember from when I grew up there. Interestingly the first time I became aware of it was when my son started using it, and he now lives in Cardiff!

The other change that intrigues me is the modern tendency to say, "I'll sort it," instead of, "I'll sort it out." I remember meeting that for the first time in Carlisle in the mid-70s and I'd never heard the usage before. And then suddenly, years later, it seems to be ousting the old form. Could it really be a piece of Carlisle dialect that suddenly spread? Or did it come in from Australia or somewhere via a TV programme and it's just coincidence that the people of Carlisle have always said "sort it" instead of "sort it out"?

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