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

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 12 21:02:55 EST 2017


Googling for "sentence-initial 'so'" yields some familiar faces.

Geoff Nunberg on Fresh Air:
https://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/432732859/so-whats-the-big-deal-with-starting-a-sentence-with-so

Arnold Zwicky on his blog:
https://arnoldzwicky.org/2015/08/11/so/

Grant Barrett on A Way With Words:
https://www.waywordradio.org/sentence-initial-so/

Mark Liberman on Language Log:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570


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

> I've been noticing it for a couple of years at the LSA and other
> conferences - younger speakers particularly tend to start their talks with
> 'so' or 'ok'.  I've been understanding it as a semantic inchoative - 'This
> is an announcement that I am getting going on my talk'.  I once started
> trying to gather data at a conference (approximate age of speaker, gender,
> and first word), but got distracted too many times and gave it up.  I don't
> know of anything 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
> year: On TV and radio I often hear a response to a question begin with the
> meaningless 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
> year or two)?
>
>

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list