Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2024 Kyra Roepke. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics Department

First Advisor

Jane Chandlee


Discourse markers (DMs) are a grammatical category that include words that contribute non-content meaning to an utterance, including um and like. DMs are often heavily linked to prescriptivist teachings because of the association that they impede the perceived credibility of the speaker. In this study, I conduct a quantitative analysis on the impact of the English DM like on the ability of participants to remember and understand scientific information presented to them in an audio format. I examined four different like frequencies: zero, low (10 likes per 1000 words), medium (50 likes per 1000 words), and high (100 likes per 1000 words). I found that there were only marginal differences between the performance of participants who heard different frequencies of like around a given piece of information. However, I found that there was a significant difference in the standard deviations for participant performance at the highest like frequency, indicating that while lower like frequencies tend to have a more consistent impact on the performance of participants, the highest frequency causes both strongly positive and strongly negative impacts on different participants’ performance. I propose that the familiarity of different like frequencies in everyday contexts impacts this difference in standard deviation. Therefore, while there is no universal correlation between like frequency and listener comprehension, the frequency of like does have an impact on how the listener responds to the scientific audio.