Like vs. such as
James Kilpatrick takes the New York Times to task in his column this week. His gripe? Like vs. such as.
He makes two points. First, briefly, he considers possible confusion:
For example, "Contemporary writers like Norman Mailer and Annie Dillard have worked in Provincetown." The "like" in this construction creates an IH - an Infinitesimal Hesitation. For the nanosecond, we wonder which of five "likes" we confront. Is it the verb? Is the Times saying that certain writers "are fond of" something? No! This "like" is a preposition! This "like" means "such as."Second, he points out that, often, writers are making no comparison at all, rendering "like" nonsensical.
Questions: Who are these masters like Picasso, industrial towns like Birmingham, officials like Governor Pataki and scholars like Warren Zimmerman? What are these movies like "Gladiator," these classics like "Swan Lake"? Where are communities like Veronawalk and Grandezza? A Times critic commented in March on Super Bowl TV commercials "featuring characters like a flatulent horse." Aaargh!He then points out that no matter how many times the Times gets it wrong, the Washington Post is sure to get it right, "a model in this field."