Sheidlower in NY Times

jester at PANIX.COM jester at PANIX.COM
Sat Aug 19 16:59:05 UTC 2000

> so, jesse, what have you found out about 'gen-X SO' (as in 'i'm so
> over that topic')?  geoff pullum and i have had to say a bit about
> this SO in our work on auxiliary reduction, but only to distinguish
> it from the degree adverbial SO that modifies adjectives ('you've
> become so famous!') and the positive rejoinder SO that's an
> alternative to TOO and emphatic NOT (A: you aren't going to
> finish that article.  B: i am SO/TOO going to finish it!).

Well, what was awkwardly quoted in the article is what I do
believe: what distinguishes this "so" from others is is use
to modify things that do not normally take modification. There
can be degrees of famousness, but there can't be degrees of
"fifteen minutes ago" (e.g. "That's so fifteen minutes ago!") or
the like.

The positive-rejoinder "so" can be confused with this newer one;
for example, I have a quote from _Spin City_ where a beautiful
woman applies for a job and says something flattering about
Michael J. Fox, and he replies, "You are _so_ hired". This is
the new one; it does not contrast with an earlier or implied
state of not-hiredness.

The earliest example I know of is from 1988, but I'd welcome
an antedating!


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