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

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 14 14:10:12 EST 2017


Back when, I somehow got into the habit of introducing a topic with the
words, "As I've said," even though I'd not mentioned that topic before,
ever. I became consciously aware of it after my girlfriend eventually
freaked out.

On Sun, Nov 12, 2017 at 9:02 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
>



-- 
-Wilson
-----
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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


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