Publication details [#15811]

Tagliamonte, Sali A. and Rachel Hudson. 1999. Be like et al. Beyond America: The quotative system in British and Canadian youth. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3 (2) : 147–172.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
Blackwell Publishers


In this paper we study the quotative system of contemporary British and Canadian youth. Multivariate analysis of nearly 1300 quotative verbs demonstrates that the innovative form be like is productive in both Canada and Britain. Traditional quotatives such as say, go, think, are used according to somewhat different patterns in the two corpora. We suggest that this is the result of differing narrative styles across varieties. However, the linguistic trajectory of the innovative form be like is remarkably parallel, not only across the British and Canadian corpora, but is also comparable with previous reports of this form in the United States. This finding provides evidence for a systematic global diffusion of be like across geographically separated speech communities and calls for further research into the social and linguistic mechanisms underlying such internationally circumscribed linguistic change.