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

Margaret Winters mewinters at WAYNE.EDU
Wed Nov 15 11:12:38 EST 2017


Agreed on the difference between 'look' and 'so'.  'That's a good question' is another matter - that one truly is used either literally or as a way of buying some time while you think of an answer to a question you haven't anticipated.  Not to say I've had to use it...


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 Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:08 AM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Meaningless "so" at start of reply sentence

> On Nov 15, 2017, at 10:44 AM, Tom Zurinskas <truespel at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
>
> So I've noticed from MSNBC commentators.  Other needless sentence leaders besides "so" are "listen" and "look”.I
>

I believe President Obama bequeathed his legacy of sentence-initial “look" to NBC’s Chuck Todd.  But it’s not quite interchangeable with “so”.

LH



>
> Tom Zurinskas,
> Originally SWConn 20 yrs,  college Tenn 3,  work NJ  33,  now FL 14.
> truespel phonetics free converter and  tutorials - http://truespel.com
[http://i1.wp.com/www.truespel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/icon.png?fit=340%2C340]<http://truespel.com/>

Truespel Phonetics – Learn English<http://truespel.com/>
truespel.com
Truespel Phonetics is the World’s first “pronunciation guide spelling system” based on U.S. English, the world’s most important language.


>
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> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2017 2:50 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: Meaningless "so" at start of reply sentence
>
> One more link on sentence-initial "so" -- Ben Yagoda's 2011 piece for the
> Chronicle's Lingua Franca blog.
>
> http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/
[http://www.chronicle.com/theme/che/img/logo-che-mobile.png]<http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/>

So It Turns Out That Everyone’s Starting Sentences With ...<http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/>
www.chronicle.com
So my favorite recent language article is a piece by Anand Giridharadas that appeared in The New York Times last year. It’s about the use of the word so in speech ...


> [http://www.chronicle.com/theme/che/img/logo-che-mobile.png]<http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/>
>
> So It Turns Out That Everyone’s Starting Sentences With ...<http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/>
[http://www.chronicle.com/theme/che/img/logo-che-mobile.png]<http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/>

So It Turns Out That Everyone’s Starting Sentences With ...<http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2011/12/02/so-it-turns-out-that-everyones-starting-sentences-with-so/>
www.chronicle.com
So my favorite recent language article is a piece by Anand Giridharadas that appeared in The New York Times last year. It’s about the use of the word so in speech ...


> www.chronicle.com<http://www.chronicle.com>
[http://www.chronicle.com/theme/che/img/app-icons/ognameplate.png]<http://www.chronicle.com/>

The Chronicle of Higher Education<http://www.chronicle.com/>
www.chronicle.com
Weekly news and job-information source for college and university faculty members, administrators, and students


> So my favorite recent language article is a piece by Anand Giridharadas that appeared in The New York Times last year. It’s about the use of the word so in speech ...
>
>
>
>
> 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
Language Log » So new?<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570#comment-81190>
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 ...


> Language Log » So new?<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570#comment-81190>
Language Log » So new?<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2570#comment-81190>
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 ...


> 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 ...
>
>
>
>> [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
Language Log » Also, check the back seat<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1872>
languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
32 Comments T. A. Smith said, November 7, 2009 @ 10:44 am. To prove your point: For about seventy years, I was painfully uneasy about writing a sentence that began ...


> Language Log » Also, check the back seat<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1872>
Language Log » Also, check the back seat<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1872>
languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
32 Comments T. A. Smith said, November 7, 2009 @ 10:44 am. To prove your point: For about seventy years, I was painfully uneasy about writing a sentence that began ...


> languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
> 32 Comments T. A. Smith said, November 7, 2009 @ 10:44 am. To prove your point: For about seventy years, I was painfully uneasy about writing a sentence that began ...
>
>
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>> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4021
Language Log » Hwæt, the parking-spaces<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4021>
languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
52 Comments Thor said, June 14, 2012 @ 8:55 am. Are you sure they aren't just quoting the rapper Li'l John? mikemorr said, June 14, 2012 @ 8:58 am


> Language Log » Hwæt, the parking-spaces<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4021>
Language Log » Hwæt, the parking-spaces<http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4021>
languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
52 Comments Thor said, June 14, 2012 @ 8:55 am. Are you sure they aren't just quoting the rapper Li'l John? mikemorr said, June 14, 2012 @ 8:58 am


> languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu
> 52 Comments Thor said, June 14, 2012 @ 8:55 am. Are you sure they aren't just quoting the rapper Li'l John? mikemorr said, June 14, 2012 @ 8:58 am
>
>
>
>>
>>
>> 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-
> [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<http://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<http://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)?
>>>>>>
>>>
>>>
>
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