I unlike this about Facebook

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On Facebook, you have the option to click “Like”, to indicate your approval of just about everything. However, as soon as you do so, the option to “Unlike” pops up. As anybody who has ever spoken English with any proficiency will tell you, the opposite of like, is dislike.

This was rather irksome to me for quite some time. NBC NewYork decided to pursue this issue with Facebook. Feel free to read the article, and I will allow you to decide whether the conclusion is satisfactory to you, or not.

Facebook “Unlikes” Grammar Critiques

New “unlike” button doesn’t belong
By SCOTT MCGREW

AFP/Getty Images

An astute viewer pointed out to us that Facebook‘s push to spread its “like” button across the Web is also spreading the mangling of the English language. Once you click “like,” the button changes to “unlike.”

But Merriam-Webster says “unlike” is defined as “a marked by lack of resemblance.” As in “one of these things is not like the other.”

What Facebook should have used if they were looking to please the proper grammar-conscious is “dislike.”

We contacted Facebook to ask about this egregious attack on English, fully expecting them not to comment. Or in Facebook-ese “uncomment.”

But to our surprise, they did comment. Pointing out that their concept of “friending” and “unfriending” had been accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary  — THE definitive record of the English Language,  a spokesperson for Facebook said:

The Oxford Dictionary is constantly adding new words to reflect the changes in language and culture. Just last year, it picked another unconventional use of the “un” prefix as its 2009 Word of the Year: “unfriend.”  There was much debate between “defriend” and “unfriend,” but Oxford stood by its choice. We’re not ones to question Oxford’s methodology for additions like “muggle,”, “mini-me” and “bootylicious.”  Perhaps a new meaning for “unlike” will be included soon.

So there’s your answer. Facebook says it has the Oxford English Dictionary on its side. And any corporate statement that involves the world “bootylicious” gets our nod of approval.

You can read the article here. As I’ve learned more about the origin and development of the English language, I’ve tried to be less troubled by “new words”, because the language evolves so quickly that we speak differently than we did one hundred years ago, and as you go father back, the difference in speech is actually rather vast. I’m sure if you had Chaucer in a room with even the most educated person nowadays, he would shudder at the words we use regularly. The English language keeps evolving. That doesn’t mean I have to be pleased with the specific examples of new words, right? RIGHT?

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2 comments on “I unlike this about Facebook

  1. Elie says:

    Actually, dislike is also incorrect for their attempted use – the “unlike” button pops up after “liking” something, meaning it is meant to “no longer like” that which you once “liked”. “unlike” or “dislike”, meant as a way of showing disapproval, should be allowed initially, if that’s its goal. The more proper term should be “remove like”.

    And you know this.

    • Avraham says:

      Probably the best usage, as suggested by my friend Dani, would be un-like, which would indicated that you no longer like something, but not that you dislike it.

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