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The transformation of So

Tim Berners-Lee has started a blog. Yay!

And what’s the first word in it? “So.” As in “So I have a blog.”

Remember when “so” indicated a logical connection between two thoughts? “I complained about the soup, so the chef spit into it?” Over the past ten years, beginning in (I think) Silicon Valley “so” flipped to become a way of easing listeners into an entirely new topic. Or into a welcome new blog.

So what? So, that’s what. (Thanks to Mark S Petrovic for the link and pointing out the “so.”) [Tags: ]

11 Responses to “The transformation of So”

  1. i think the valley girls had a major role in evolving the use of “so” ;-)

  2. I think “So,…” is possibly a west coast idiom. Growing up in Oregon, this construction was used all the time in the 1960’s by, let’s say, the more working class and rural residents. Common were “So I went to the store and…”, “So, I was talking to Joe, and he said…”, “So, anyway, how about them Ducks?”. Almost always as starting a conversation or topic. Don’t know if it’s a pause syllable like “Ummm”, or if it is a connection between two thoughts where the first is just indeterminate (as – “The circumstances of the world are such, so I went to the store, and…”

  3. So, what else are you going to blame on Silicon Valley? You Easterners are sooooooo envious.

  4. Lots of other word could have done the job quite as well:

    “You know, I have a blog.”
    “Well, now I have a blog.”
    “You know, I have a blog.”
    “Right then (or on), I have a blog.”
    “A blog. That’s what I have now”
    “You know, dude, whatever. Blog”

    IMHO, the first word in this particular blog should have been a hyperlink. More stylish.

  5. So be it.

    And so it goes.

    So long!

  6. So be it.

    So there!

    And so it goes.

    So long!

  7. Yes, I also noticed this pattern of speech starting in about 2002 from a few colleagues at IBM Research in Hawthorne, New York. At the time I found it really annoying, but now it seems that lots of technical people at IBM use this pattern when you ask a technical question that requires them to step back and provide some context.

    E.g.:

    “Why are our software installs so damned big these days?”

    “So we have a lot of customers with many diverse requirements…”

  8. I agree, the use of “so” in spoken (mostly SoCal) English as a substitute for “and” — and so many other connectors — is highly irritating. (BTW, I’ve noticed that Manhattanites use “um” or “uh” similarly, but mostly to hold the floor while their mind catches up with their mouth (fast talkers, but I like that).

    Old grammar books list specific (proper) uses of “so” along with the necessary punctuation (for writing only, obviously, but common practice allows for the punctuation to be a comma, when used in less formal/modern texts.

    “So” usage/punctuation:
    1) (first meaning) “a lot” as in “so much…” = okay usage
    punctuation = none, except in horrible prose, e.g., “traffic was so, so, so, so bad today”
    2) (second meaning, per Dr. D) “…indicating a logical connection between two thoughts”; most commonly “so” indicates a result of the first statement = okay usage
    punctuation (old-style) = either a semicolon or a full-stop followed by a new sentence — i.e., “such bad traffic. So I…” or “such bad traffic, so I…”
    1) (another meaning) in legal documents (which make no sense anyway) = okay (legal) usage

    What I don’t understand is why people say “But yet,…”. Mystifying.

    w
    Member of the Atlantic Monthly Word Police

  9. I got curious about “so” as a general introductory noise about 10 years ago (so…that must have been because I was living on the west coast, huh?) and started keeping my ears open for other noises with similar uses. In movies from the 20’s-40’s (roughly, an historian of language could correct me, I’m sure) the equivalent is “Say.” Or, rather, the near-equivalent: “say” has a little more energy to it, at least in the movies. “Say, aren’t you the guy who…?”

  10. In comparison, so is used to give the same meaning as “like” or “as” e.g. Tom is not so clever as his brother. We can also say, Tom is not as clever as his brother.

  11. ruleta de casino…


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