13 August 2015

So


EXAMPLE A   Interviewer: What drew you to astronomy in the first place?
Interviewee: So, it was when I was little and I first looked through my grandfather's telescope.

EXAMPLE B  Interviewer: Could you tell the listeners about your trip to Italy?
Interviewee: So we landed at the airport in Pisa on the Saturday morning.
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Personally, I do not use "so" at the beginning of utterances. I never have and never will but in the last couple of years I have noticed a growing tendency for folk  to begin responses or remarks with that word. It has, I think,  become an affectation in modern conversation - especially amongst those who though reasonably well-educated still want to prove points and somehow nourish their self-importance. I hear it quite a lot in BBC interviews.

Of course we all throw random and redundant words into our talk. They create pauses for thought or help to steady confidence - erm, do you know what I mean? It's like, you know. Okay. Errr..People do not speak like books and the grammar of everyday talk is quite different from the grammar we encounter in effective writing.

Nevertheless, the modern use of "So" at the start of responses has irritated me for a while. I wondered if it bothered other people too and felt far less conspicuous in my pedantry when I came across these comments in Dictionary.com on the use of "So":-

I’m so glad to find this discussion! I HATE this new trend of using “so” to begin an answer to a question. It’s lazy and incredibly annoying. - Colleen

Whenever somebody says “so…” I promptly sing, “a needle pulling thread.” - Matt Butts

Every time someone begins a conversation with “so”, I feel confused, because it seems like I missed something, or that they began the conversation in their heads and they vocalised it in the middle of it. Also it has a complacent aura. - Kaelian

My observation is that “so” could be dispensed with when used as an introductory, as has become quite common in modern speech in the U.S.. It adds nothing to the sentence that I can detect.Take a sample of sentences that use it, then remove “so” and see if you can detect any loss of information. - Frank Haynes

The thing that annoys me is not just using “so” at the beginning of a sentence, but using it when it is not a continuation of something previously stated. I see Facebook posts all the time which stated something to the effect of “So I was driving to work today and….” I want to respond to those something like “Can you please fill me in on what happened before? Since you started with “so”, I assume that you are continuing a story.” The bottom line is that “so” should NOT be the first word in a totally new subject/thought. - Jack

Recently I noticed acting CIA honcho Michael Morrell using this “So” sentence starter often in interviews and in testimony before Congress. It is an affectation in my opinion, very off-putting and, although it may not be intended, it is a very condescending way of speaking. It is a head-fake that gives you the impression that the speaker is continuing a thought when in fact they are starting off a thought. - Joey12345

What a relief! I am not alone in my aversion to "So" as a starter. Forget about national debts, the rise of The Islamic State (Hi guys!), boat people in the Mediterranean, explosions in Chinese ports, Russian interference in Ukraine, the rise of Donald Trump etcetera - what really matters with regard to the progress of civilisation is our gathering campaign to crush the misuse of "So". Join us! Stamp out the "So" twerps!  Make them see the error of their ways! 
SAY NO TO "SO"!

30 comments:

  1. I hadn't actually noticed that one, but now that you mention it......

    What is like fingernails down a blackboard to me is ending a place designation with what I call "the unnecessary AT". Where's it at? Where's the store at? Where are you at? ARRGGGHHH!

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    1. And I hadn't registered that one Mary but now you mention it you are so right!

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  2. So, I gave up sewing many years ago so I took up more pleasurable pleasures so I could have more fun, like...so, you know. Like, you know...just things, like, surfing, drawing, painting...like. So when I had time to sew I didn't sew so I sketched instead, like so that was more fun, like...you know.

    I find myself slipping into the "so" hole every now and then, so I have to pull myself up and back out of it so I don't become a so and so, you know!

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    1. Loved the first paragraph Lee. It makes this modern use of "So" seem like the language of morons. With apologies to any morons who may be reading this comment.

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    2. Apology accepted...

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    3. No. I didn"t mean that you are a moron Lee! You are an intellectual giantess my dear!

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  3. So Yorkie I take it that , like , you know , some words are , like , so redundant.

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    1. Yeah Leishy baby you like you got it man! That's so cool!

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  4. Some of us Aussies have the habit when we finish a sentence that we end the sentence with an upwards inflection. Sounds like we are always asking questions.

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    1. I am partial to a bit of upwards inflection myself Leishy?

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  5. Lee said it for me x

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    1. Lee is your mouthpiece. Like a microphone or maybe a megaphone!

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  6. This is all beyond me.

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    1. Just stick to crawling around in the leaf litter Adrian!

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  7. Can't say I've noticed this myself, but then again, I don't watch/hear that many BBC interviews (none, actually) here on German telly.
    Sometimes when I'm out on the fields, running with my American friend, I start a sentence with "So". It happens when I want to continue on something we've been talking about before. For instance, this week it was "So, what was it like in Stockholm last week?". Of course, the question would have still been the same had I simply asked it without the "So" as prefix.

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    1. That's a different use of "So" Meike. It is not pretentious.It is linked to something that went before.

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  8. So, you don’t like the use of the word so at the beginning of a sentence?
    So I checked the dictionary definition and now I am so bewildered I don’t know what to say next; but not so bewildered that I will actually stop blathering on. I have now jumped into the ‘so-use’ bear pit so I will continue on so an escape may or may not occur to me.
    It hasn’t - but that was a challenge and a bit of fun(rising inflection on the last word, so you will know where I live).
    Ms Soup

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    1. So are you trying to wind me up Alphie? If so, it has WORKED! Grrrrrrrr!

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  9. 'hey … ' is another 'so' that I'm hearing a around a bit too.

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    1. In food outlets - "Can I get two burgers?" "Can I get a can of cola?"
      Owner "No! It is my responsibility to get them for you!"

      Delete
  10. Only the other day I was thinking how annoying this is, YP. I think I was listening to a BBC interview at the time.

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    1. If I organise a protest march on Parliament will you lead the Welsh contingent Jenny? "NO TO SO!"

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  11. Replies
    1. Funny guy! You need a wallop!

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  12. I do it, at least on my blog. I don't think I do it when I speak, though. Which is strange.

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    1. Repent sinner! The first step to salvation is admitting the error of your ways!

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  13. "Hey" is compulsory at least once in every sentence if you come from Nth Queensland Kate !

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  14. Ah well. So you so so shall you reap.

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