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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 14 15:19:29 EST 2017


Sentence-initial "OK, so" sounds perfectly normal to me.

JL

On Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 2:59 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:

> Heaney's use of "So" came up in the comments on the Language Log post I
> linked to.
>
> ---
> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570#comment-81190
> [Dan Lufkin:] Seamus Heany begins his translation of Beowulf with "So. The
> Spear-Danes in days gone by…." The "so" renders OE "Hwæt." Heany comments
> on his choice (Introduction, p. xxvii):
> "In Hiberno-English Scullionspeak, the particle 'so' came naturally to the
> rescue, because in that idiom 'so' operates as an expression which
> obliterates all previous discourse and narrative, and at the same time
> functions as an exclamation calling for immediate attention. So, 'so' it
> was."
> ---
>
> Also discussed in comments on these posts:
>
> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1872
> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4021
>
>
> On Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 2:33 PM, Kate Svoboda-Spanbock <
> katesvobodaspanbock at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > 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-
> > >> 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
>



-- 
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