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

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 15 11:57:14 EST 2017


An article at dictionary.com criticizes the sentence-initial 'so' and
presents a parade of other horribles.

Words That Can Ruin Your Sentence
http://www.dictionary.com/e/s/umwords/?param=HP

Actually
Um, Ah, Er, Uh
Well
So
Literally
Look
Fantastic, Great, Awesome, Super
Honestly
Seriously
Totally
Basically
Essentially
Really, Very
Like
Just
The thing is . . .
For what it's worth . . .
Obviously
In a weird way . . .
You know? Right?

Comment about 'so'
http://www.dictionary.com/e/s/umwords/?param=HP#so

[Begin excerpt]
Like well, so is a linguistic hedge that has gained popularity in
recent years. "So, here’s what I’ve been thinking." "So, as we see in
this graphic . . . ." "So, yeah, that’s kind of what I thought."

At times, speakers purposefully use hedges like so for stylistic
effect, perhaps to appear more down-to-earth in front of an audience.
...
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 11:12 AM, Margaret Winters <mewinters at wayne.edu> wrote:
> 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.
>
>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________
>> 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 ...
>>
>>
>>
>>> 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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