It seems as though liberal use of the word "like" in spoken conversation is a common habit of young people, especially here in the States. But is it truly an affectation of youth? And do women use "like" in this way more than men?
Linguist Mark Liberman investigated this by analyzing the transcripts of 11,699 telephone conversations to count uses of phrases such as these:
"... once you have a family you get married and so forth you know the like relationships change a little bit ..."
"... I came across it on um a site on the internet in a like freebie type newsletter ..."
By counting instances of "the like" and "a like" he avoids counting legitimate uses of the word, such as "generally speaking I like eating at home". He summarizes the results in the table below, where uses of "a like" (solid lines) and "the like" (dashed lines) are separately counted for males (blue) and females (red) of different age groups.