My wife and I have our own set of pet peeves about how people use and often teach the English language. So this NPR story really caught my attention. As a techie and programmer – in my heart anyway, don’t get a lot of opportunity anymore – there’s a reference that for me really hits home. So if you love the English language I’m certain you will laugh and perhaps some will be at yourself – so have a listen!
So here are some excerpts from the story in case you don’t chase links without a bit more about what they are!
To listen to the media tell it, “so” is busting out all over — or at least at the beginning of a sentence. New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas calls “so” the new “um” and “like”; others call it a plague and a fad.
It’s like a lot of other grammatical fixations: Not everybody cares about it, but the ones who do care care a whole lot. When NPR’s Weekend Edition asked listeners last year to pick the most-misused word or phrase in the language, that sentence-initial “so” came in in second place, right behind “between you and I” and ahead of venerable bugbears like misusing “literally” and confusing “who” and “whom.” That’s a meteoric rise for a peeve that wasn’t even on the radar a decade ago… … Many of the complaints about sentences beginning with “so” are triggered by a specific use of the word that’s genuinely new. It’s the “so” that you hear from people who can’t answer a question without first bringing you up to speed on the backstory. I go to the Apple Store and ask the guy at the Genius Bar why my laptop is running slow. He starts by saying, “So, Macs have two kinds of disk permissions …” If that “so” were a chapter title in a Victorian novel, it would read, “In which it is explained what the reader must know before his question can be given a proper answer.”