Of late, I have been noticing a lot of casual memes floating around, particularly on Facebook, that involve this phrase. Typical constructs could be like the following examples:

B*&^%$# be like...I need a break.

Bạn đang xem: Be like definition and meaning

Niner fans be like...but we won five times!

Liberals be like...I hate guns.

I understand these are strictly informal constructs. But I"d need a native speaker"s (American glaskragujevca.net because most such memes seem khổng lồ originate in the US) take on:

how casual these phrases are, i.e. If they can be used insemi-formal fiction writing?how this usage originate và if it has any affiliation to aparticular dialect group, e.g. Midwest, African-American, SouthernAmerican, etc.
grammar dialects syntactic-analysis
Improve this question
edited Dec 6 "14 at 17:55
asked Dec 6 "14 at 17:45

87155 gold badges1515 silver badges2929 bronze badges
| Show 5 more comments

5 Answers 5

Active Oldest Score
There are two, maybe three, different things going on here:

Habitual be, as John Lawler và J_LV observe, is characteristic of AAVE; it now appears khổng lồ be spreading from that dialect into the speech of ‘Millennials’, and I am informed by my 24-year-old son that the use is not entirely ironic: it is marked as non-standard but employed unselfconsciously. For instance, the common catchphrase Haters gonna hate may be paraphrased Haters be hatin.

‘Quotative’ BE like, with a finite khung of BE representing a singular event, is another matter. In the 1950s the very old dialect use of like as a ‘discourse marker’, with only a very remote sense of similitude, experienced a sudden upsurge among the ‘Beats’, và indeed became a conventional sign in the representation of the speech of jazzmen và their followers. By early sixties it had been widely adopted among trắng teenagers across the US (I cannot say when it gained currency in other speech communities), và it was about that time that I first remember encountering ‘quotative’ BE like.

Since then BE like (and bare like) has been in continual use. It is particularly associated in popular imagination with the speech of teenagers, particularly the Southern California dialect called Valspeak, but in fact it is not restricted to any region or sociolect: I hear it every day in casual use by people of every origin & every calling.

It is true, however, as J_LV says, that it is strictly a casual usage. It is not used in writing except where dialogue is represented; in fact, it would have no point in writing, since its characteristic use is khổng lồ represent what follows not merely as a quotation of someone’s words but as a representation, a mimesis, of that speaker’s performance. & in speech it is still more characteristic of teenage than adult speech, because as people grow older they achieve a firmer grasp of formal speech & avoid casual use when there is any sense that it may be inappropriate.

The utterances you quote marry these two senses: be is employed as a finite verb signifying habitual or generic application và like khổng lồ mark what follows as a representation of behavior. The answer from teenager Farooz Masroor confirms that this is employed across ethnicities to lớn “mock a certain stereotype of any group of people”.

Xem thêm: Thánh Memes: Lửa Chùa Ff - Lửa Miễn Phí, Lửa Tự Do Hay Lửa Chùa

There is also (my son patiently explained to lớn me) another be like usage which marries both of these: X be lượt thích Y employs a mimesis of X’s just-occurred singular performance of Y to express that that Y is characteristic of X. “Watt be lượt thích doodly-whomp!” for instance states that J.J. Watt’s brutal sack of the quarterback is the sort of thing he does all the time. This may also be expressed as “Watt be all doodly-whomp!” —But this is only for immediate responses; with past events, the verb reverts lớn ordinary finite form.