So, I was just noticing...

BlackPearl

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Up here in Canada, I like to listen to a CBC radio show called Quirks and Quarks, which mainly involves interviewing scientists, often graduate students, from a wide range of fields about their work. In the last few years, I've noticed that the younger interviewees in particular preface almost every answer with "So ...", except for one, which starts with "That's a really good question ...". I assume this is part of some "presenting science to the media" guidelines graduate students are given, because it seems ubiquitous. I have never found it condescending or particularly annoying though, just a bit interesting. They generally seem enthusiasticabout their work and happy to explain it.
 

Colorado Jay

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It makes me want to retort "is that so?". This use of "so" has been pretty pervasive during my 20 years in tech. I hear it so often that I have added it to the fluff/filler words that the grammarian in our Toastmasters club tallies up for you as a speaker, just like umm or uhhh.

I would agree that for some it is used as a sort of superior "I'm going to have to start from the beginning so YOU can understand", or the more benign "that answer will require some background". Mostly it seems to be simply used as an unnecessary filler that signals that the floor has been taken while gathering thoughts, similar to "Well, ...". Silence can make people uncomfortable and if you don't signal that you are about to speak, someone else might jump in, including the person who asked the question.
 

thenuge

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I don’t feel like ‘so’ is being condescending or patronizing. I noticed it as well years ago and wondered what the heck and now it's just become annoying. I see it as a softer way of starting a story or an answer to a question. If you transcribed the sentence it started and just removed the so, it would still mean the same thing but would have a harder start. Maybe it’s the conversational thing that some news has tried to bake in to their script.

The one I don't get is ‘look..’ starting an answer. That started years ago too but seems to be used a lot more now. That word is very strange. It is literally a command and you’re starting a sentence by telling someone to do something. (‘Look here..’ is probably where it came from) It used to only get used when a discussion was pushing towards an argument and someone had to make a firm point, and now that firm point is where the discussion is starting and feels like it’s trying to end the ‘argument’ without the need for a countering point. It also tends to be used by people with some power politically or militarily and for me using that word is expressing some impatience with the question asked as if they know the answer and can’t understand why no one else gets it.
 

ThomFloor

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The "So" that people use is sometimes a good thing. It saves you from having to hear or read "the whole story" which sometimes is not necessary.
I find the opposite, that a (long) story usually follows 'so'. Common usage is among millenials. I have noticed increased use at the front end of a sentence, whereas it should follow a statement of fact within a sentence.
 

blueshadow

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So I used to have an employee that when asked a question would start with "Basically...." what it meant in his case was "Basically I have no idea" drove me crazy and I have basically taken the word out of my vocabulary basically SO that I don't think about him basically not knowing his job and I had to basically clean up his mess! :)
 

RogersLudwig

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I work in Peru a lot, at least before the pandemic, and Peruvians say they can tell who is from the US by the use of the word "actually" in every sentence for every issue under discussion.
 

BlackPearl

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So I used to have an employee that when asked a question would start with "Basically...." what it meant in his case was "Basically I have no idea" drove me crazy and I have basically taken the word out of my vocabulary basically SO that I don't think about him basically not knowing his job and I had to basically clean up his mess! :)
I had a professor in university who seemed to use "basically" in every sentance. We used to run a pool on how many times he'd say it in a lecture.
 

lrod1707

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I find the opposite, that a (long) story usually follows 'so'. Common usage is among millenials. I have noticed increased use at the front end of a sentence, whereas it should follow a statement of fact within a sentence.
That's true as well!
 

swarfrat

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Filler words...I've heard of at least one culture where if you don't use filler you give up your spot in conversation. So they use not just filler words but these drone tones. The example escapes me but eeeeeeeeeeeeee I'll think of it sooner or later.

With all due respect... Basically means the exact opposite. As in "I don't want you to miss how offended I want you to be, so I'm going to tell you that up front "
 

frankmott

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I have a close relative -- an in-law -- who often ENDS sentences with "so." That drives me crazy as well.

"We grew up on Oak street, where all the kids knew each other, so..."

So what? What?
 
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Tornado

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I have a close relative -- an in-law -- who often ENDS sentences with so. That drives me crazy as well.

"We grew up on Oak street, where all the kids knew each other, so..."

So what? What?
I've caught myself doing that and it annoys me! Language has a way of sneaking its way into you.
 

blueshadow

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When I took speech in college we had to do 3 out of 4 subjects given to pass. If you said "uh" at any point in your 10 minute speech you failed
 

JimmySticks

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I'm guilty of starting some of my threads with "so". I use it to make the post a bit more casual or soft, like, " hey just hanging out and thought I'd post" type of thing. I didn't know it was annoying!

I get really ticked off when somebody asks for your opinion or they give you a question and you answer it, sometimes in great detail, and they're response is, "whatever!" Argggh! The ultimate dismissal of your point of view!
 


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