I’m a bit of a newshound. I like to have an ear to the ground as it were. Working from home I have the radio on in the background and the TV, with the audio muted, showing CNN, BBC, or Sky News. As I listen to audio reports on a wide range of topics, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to local pothole griping, I am struck by the current trend to begin replies with the word ‘so’.
Sometimes these linguistic tics are primarily the purview of people of a certain age. Those in their twenties, thirties and even forties are often overly generous with the use of some words, such as ‘like’. ‘It was, like, the best thing I have seen.’ ‘I drank, like, half a glass of juice.’ What was it – the best, or a half, or not?
. From experts to person-in-the-street interviews, people seem to think it is mandatory that they begin a response to a question with the word ‘so’
But the current trend is heard from all age groups. From experts to person-in-the-street interviews, people seem to think it is mandatory that they begin a response to a question with the word ‘so’. Why?
Experienced journalists covering the egregious invasion of Ukraine, when asked about the situation often respond with something along the lines of ‘So, the Russian troops facing fierce fighting’ or ‘So, the thing is…’.
Evidently, every reply to every question – okay, I’m exaggerating a wee bit – must begin with ‘so’. This trend has grown but it is not new. As long ago as 2014, NPR’s Weekend Edition asked listeners to pick the most-misused word or phrase in the English language; the sentence beginning ‘so’ came in second.
So, like, maybe go easy on the over-usage.
Interestingly, starting a sentence with ‘so’ can be grammatically correct. What causes the problem is the apparent need to use it to start every sentence. So, like, maybe go easy on the over-usage.