[Ads-l] Meaningless "so" at start of reply sentence

Barbara Need bhneed at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 12 17:59:20 EST 2017


I have taken it to be a discourse particle—which, I think, explains my
students' tendency to put a comma after it.

Barbara

Barbara Need

On Sun, Nov 12, 2017 at 5:22 PM, Margaret Winters <mewinters at wayne.edu>
wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Margaret Winters <mewinters at WAYNE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Meaningless "so" at start of reply sentence
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------
>
> I've been noticing it for a couple of years at the LSA and other
> conference=
> s - younger speakers particularly tend to start their talks with 'so' or
> 'o=
> k'.  I've been understanding it as a semantic inchoative - 'This is an
> anno=
> uncement that I am getting going on my talk'.  I once started trying to
> gat=
> her data at a conference (approximate age of speaker, gender, and first
> wor=
> d), but got distracted too many times and gave it up.  I don't know of
> anyt=
> hing has been written on it, but would be interested.
>
>
> Margaret
>
>
> ----------------------------
> MARGARET E WINTERS
> Former Provost
> Professor Emerita - French and Linguistics
> Wayne State University
> Detroit, MI  48202
>
> mewinters at wayne.edu
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Cohen,=
>  Gerald Leonard <gcohen at MST.EDU>
> Sent: Sunday, November 12, 2017 5:12 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Meaningless "so" at start of reply sentence
>
> Yesterday a friend asked me about something I've noticed for at least a
> yea=
> r: On TV and radio I often hear a response to a question begin with the
> mea=
> ningless word so.
>
> E.g.:
>
> Question: Did the Democrats have a good turnout?
>
> Answer begins: So let's look at the figures.
>
>
> Has this feature been treated yet in any linguistic discussions?  And is
> my=
>  impression correct that it is a relatively recent development (the past
> ye=
> ar or two)?
>
>
> Gerald Cohen
>
>
>
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