It was reassuring to read comments on yesterday’s Word Nymph post about “so” versus “as,” showing that I am not enacting grammatical laws in my sleep.
One comment in particular conjured up another peeve of mine. In this season of Festivus, during which we air our grievances, I thought it might be apt to share it.
The commenter said: “Where ‘so’ so annoys is its use as a filler word to begin a conversation, as if the subject were already under discussion. This dandy device is headed for trouble. It’s the next ‘like.’”
I agree. I can also relate. My husband often begins a conversation with “But.”
This got me thinking of an emerging pattern of speech I’ve noticed in recent years, stemming from what I’d call stopaphobia, or fear of ending a sentence definitively. Whereas the commenter notices “so” in the beginning of a conversation, I notice “so” at the end of a sentence. I haven’t seen this in written form, but it’s becoming common in spoken sentences. People just don’t want to finish a sentence with a firm period, opting to end instead with an ellipsis. Here’s an example: “I work as a manager at IBM, so…”
The trailing “so” seems to go hand in hand with the trailing “or” at the end of a question. Listen for it and I swear you’ll hear it everywhere. “Are you staying in town for the holidays or…?” Meredith Vieira does this in interviews a lot. It’s not just the teeny-boppers.
Let me know if you notice this, but don’t hate me if it then drives you crazy. It’s just the plight of the wordie.
Finally, in the spirit of Festivus, and because this time of year might have us tied up in knots with excess fury to burn, feel free to lay your peeves here. Get them off your hyperventilating chests. It’s safe, so…