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

Margaret Winters mewinters at WAYNE.EDU
Tue Nov 14 14:44:41 EST 2017


Thus, I suppose, announcing a narrative to follow.  I think Barbara Need is right in labeling it a discourse marker.


----------------------------
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 Kate Svoboda-Spanbock <katesvobodaspanbock at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 2:33 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Meaningless "so" at start of reply sentence

Not sure whether any of the references below mention it, but, Seamus Heaney used it, followed by a period, to start his translation of Beowulf.
--
Kate Svoboda-Spanbock
katesvobodaspanbock at gmail.com
310-880-3091



On Nov 14, 2017, at 11:10 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

> 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-
[https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/08/18/gettyimages-475158605edit_wide-9ae801ac64861edfb7bf9e2df45e05068e5f885a.jpg?s=1400]<https://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/432732859/so-whats-the-big->

So, What's The Big Deal With Starting A Sentence With 'So'?<https://www.npr.org/2015/09/03/432732859/so-whats-the-big->
www.npr.org
It has been called the new "um" or "like," but linguist Geoff Nunberg says starting sentences with "so" isn't a new trend. People have been doing it for years. We're just noticing it more now.


>> deal-with-starting-a-sentence-with-so
>>
>> Arnold Zwicky on his blog:
>> https://arnoldzwicky.org/2015/08/11/so/
[http://arnoldzwicky.s3.amazonaws.com/ZippyToadSo.jpg]<https://arnoldzwicky.org/2015/08/11/so/>

So…? | Arnold Zwicky's Blog<https://arnoldzwicky.org/2015/08/11/so/>
arnoldzwicky.org
Today's Zippy features Mr. the Toad, moving during the day to his default personality: seized by rage and a sense of entitlement and issuing sweeping pronouncements ...


>>
>> Grant Barrett on A Way With Words:
>> https://www.waywordradio.org/sentence-initial-so/
Sentence-Initial So - A Way with Words<https://www.waywordradio.org/sentence-initial-so/>
www.waywordradio.org
So, can a sentence begin with the word so? Which ones? So is oftentimes used in place of therefore to conclude an explanation, but more people are using it as a


>>
>> Mark Liberman on Language Log:
>> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570
Language Log » So new?<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570>
languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
62 Comments Noni Mausa said, August 22, 2010 @ 9:54 am. Being rather slow on the uptake, I first noticed the initial "so" a few years ago in CBC radio interviews with ...


>>
>>
>> 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
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>>
>
>
>
> --
> -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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