Here's the biggest, steaming, corn-infested lot I've seen in some time. Key quote:
Parents may gnash their teeth, but language scholars like like.
"It's a shame this poor little usage gets such a bum rap," says Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain, an associate professor at the University of Alberta in Canada. Dailey-O'Cain, who has published an often-cited study on the use of like, says, "It's innovative, it serves a particular function and it does specific things that you can't duplicate with other quotatives."
Someone needs to revoke that woman's tenure-- even if it is at U of A.
FOLLOWUP: I mentioned Frye in the comments. Here's a good example of the sort of thing I'm talking about, and for which the common usage of "like" is cognate:
The other day a student came to consult me about a failure in English, and what he said, as I recorded immediately he left, was this:
Y'know, I couldn't figure what happened, cause, jeez, well, I figured, y'know, I had that stuff cold-- I mean, like I say, I'd gone over the stuff 'an figured I knew it, and-- well, jeez, I do' know.
I submit that this is not prose, and I suspect he had failed because he had not understood the difficulties of translating his speech into prose. He was, of course, "taking" English. But English was not taking him: fifteen years of schooling had failed to make any impression on his speech habits.
(Northrop Frye, The Well-Tempered Critic)
(That speech, by the way, I heard, in one form or another, countless times in my day.) With Dailey-O'Cain and those who concur with her, we have academics acting as apologists for filler "language," for the babble of syllabic fumbling and stumbling. In short, it's the evidence of inchoate thinking-- and a result of untimely and ill-considered expression. So, yes, if you will: like is, quite literally, a premature ejaculation. Something to consider, non?
You have to love the (Groucho) Marxist turn by Frye there: "But English was not taking him." Alas, English isn't taking a great number of its students these days....