Beginning sentences with "so"

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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#41  Postby LucidFlight » Mar 07, 2013 3:58 am

So, so-and-sos are so-so, so?
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#42  Postby Tursas » Mar 07, 2013 3:58 am

Speaking of unnecessary and annoying use of a word...
Blood wrote:[...] because I literally don't remember ever talking this way.

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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#43  Postby Spinozasgalt » Mar 07, 2013 4:08 am

LucidFlight wrote:So, so-and-sos are so-so, so?


So...
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#44  Postby Agrippina » Mar 07, 2013 4:46 am

What's even more annoying than the "like" business is the way Americans (sorry guys you really do this) is "and" even Barack Obama does it. Just listen to him speaking off the cuff and count how many times he says "and." Also it's not pronounced "and" its "e-annd" drawled out, especially by women. :roll:
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#45  Postby Zwaarddijk » Mar 07, 2013 8:55 am

When we speak, there's a lot of things going on we don't think of _in that speaking_. One part of it has to do with taking turns. Since we tend to be able to speak faster than we generate things to say, we would have a lot of pauses in our speech if we didn't use filler words. Everyone uses filler words, and denying it just showcases that you don't know how you speak. If you don't think you do, someone should record you unawares - your filler words will be quite obvious.

I tried for a while avoiding filler words just as an experiment. Guess what happens?

Those you speak with take the silence as a cue that it's their turn to start talking! It's basically a way to trigger interruptions and the discussion gets weird and can't really be carried out naturally. Filler words have a function. An important function.

But of course, when someone uses a different filler word than you do, it's ok to hate them for it and think they're being badly educated or talk like shit or something along those lines. It's fully fucking justified. They've brought it on themselves by not lining up perfectly with your standards.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#46  Postby Scarlett » Mar 07, 2013 9:01 am

Animavore wrote:Doesn't bother me.

Now starting sentences with, "As a Christian... " as if it validates succeeding dialogue...

:nono:


:this: so much!

I've actually followed that by "As an atheist...." essentially I think what you've just said is bollocks :smoke:
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#47  Postby advaitya » Mar 07, 2013 9:27 am

So rry.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#48  Postby katja z » Mar 07, 2013 9:36 am

Zwaarddijk wrote:When we speak, there's a lot of things going on we don't think of _in that speaking_. One part of it has to do with taking turns. Since we tend to be able to speak faster than we generate things to say, we would have a lot of pauses in our speech if we didn't use filler words. Everyone uses filler words, and denying it just showcases that you don't know how you speak. If you don't think you do, someone should record you unawares - your filler words will be quite obvious.

I tried for a while avoiding filler words just as an experiment. Guess what happens?

Those you speak with take the silence as a cue that it's their turn to start talking! It's basically a way to trigger interruptions and the discussion gets weird and can't really be carried out naturally. Filler words have a function. An important function.


This.

I think we notice it because they diverge from the written standard. Which is just that, the written standard - with a somewhat different pragmatics. We never write quite the way we speak, and that isn't (only) for lack of education, but because writing and speaking have some different possibilities and constraints. The trouble is that we're so steeped in a written tradition that people (including linguists, for a pretty long time) often forget that writing is a secondary linguistic phenomenon; spoken language is the primary form of language, with its own dynamics, and it should logically be understood (and judged) on its own terms. (Things get rather interesting in phenomena that are clearly on the border between the two, such as giving a formal, pre-prepared (pre-written) speech - but this is rather different from informal everyday communication.)

More narrowly on topic, in spoken language, there is, for instance, no punctuation. The role is taken by intonation and, often, other pragmatic markers. "So" or "Well" to begin an utterance are much like a capital letter to begin a written sentence (or even like an indent to begin a new paragraph). Similarly, "like" often has a function analogous to quotation marks. And so on.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#49  Postby Fallible » Mar 07, 2013 10:43 am

Some nationalities use long drawn out ''uuuhhhhhh'' or ''aaaahhhh'' sounds more. If you listen to a French or Italian person speaking and compare that with an English speaker, it becomes more noticeable. Although Brits also tend to use shorter ''um''s and ''er''s at times. This serves the same purpose - of filling the void in order to keep your place in a conversation, and giving your brain time to formulate what you want to say.

P.S. I don't think anyone hates people who use filler words which are different from their own. Let's not go OTT.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#50  Postby katja z » Mar 07, 2013 10:49 am

Fallible wrote:Some nationalities use long drawn out ''uuuhhhhhh'' or ''aaaahhhh'' sounds more. If you listen to a French or Italian person speaking and compare that with an English speaker, it becomes more noticeable. Although Brits also tend to use shorter ''um''s and ''er''s at times. This serves the same purpose - of filling the void in order to keep your place in a conversation, and giving your brain time to formulate what you want to say.


Yes. If I remember correctly, research on spoken language shows that different languages have different conventions of how long a silence there can be before someone else takes the word. In French you basically have to keep producing a continuous sound, or others will take it as a sign you have finished. Hence the euuuh'ing you often hear, sometimes after each word - it means "hang on, I'm thinking about this".
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#51  Postby nunnington » Mar 07, 2013 11:01 am

katja z wrote:
Fallible wrote:Some nationalities use long drawn out ''uuuhhhhhh'' or ''aaaahhhh'' sounds more. If you listen to a French or Italian person speaking and compare that with an English speaker, it becomes more noticeable. Although Brits also tend to use shorter ''um''s and ''er''s at times. This serves the same purpose - of filling the void in order to keep your place in a conversation, and giving your brain time to formulate what you want to say.


Yes. If I remember correctly, research on spoken language shows that different languages have different conventions of how long a silence there can be before someone else takes the word. In French you basically have to keep producing a continuous sound, or others will take it as a sign you have finished. Hence the euuuh'ing you often hear, sometimes after each word - it means "hang on, I'm thinking about this".


A fascinating topic, 'turn-taking', and there are lots of ways in which one can preserve one's turn. Partly by using a continuous sound, as you point out, but also via intonation, which can be used to suggest, 'hang on, I haven't finished yet', but also by the ability to construct long sentences, which it would be rude to interrupt. There are of course, explicit cues, such as 'guess what happened next?', which practically compels the other speaker to cede turn. Also eye-contact, body-language, can be used.

It's very interesting to see how people also try to disrupt turn-taking - you can see this in TV discussions, where one speaker is droning on, and the other speakers then set about to interrupt them. Very amusing really, and obviously, some speakers are very skilled in turn-taking and disrupting turn, and others are not!

You can see why a chair-person is needed, as they attempt to enforce turn-taking.

PS. I forgot to mention another interesting aspect of research, that it seems to show that men interrupt women more than v.v., but also status is a factor, thus, your boss will feel entitled to interrupt you, whereas you won't! Haven't got the refs.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#52  Postby Agrippina » Mar 07, 2013 11:01 am

Fallible wrote:Some nationalities use long drawn out ''uuuhhhhhh'' or ''aaaahhhh'' sounds more. If you listen to a French or Italian person speaking and compare that with an English speaker, it becomes more noticeable. Although Brits also tend to use shorter ''um''s and ''er''s at times. This serves the same purpose - of filling the void in order to keep your place in a conversation, and giving your brain time to formulate what you want to say.

P.S. I don't think anyone hates people who use filler words which are different from their own. Let's not go OTT.


I don't hate filler words, I just find them annoying when the guy is commenting on a rugby match and he puts a but and an and in between every two words and explains his point but er never gets there and it's annoying.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#53  Postby Zwaarddijk » Mar 07, 2013 11:54 am

Fallible wrote:Some nationalities use long drawn out ''uuuhhhhhh'' or ''aaaahhhh'' sounds more. If you listen to a French or Italian person speaking and compare that with an English speaker, it becomes more noticeable. Although Brits also tend to use shorter ''um''s and ''er''s at times. This serves the same purpose - of filling the void in order to keep your place in a conversation, and giving your brain time to formulate what you want to say.

P.S. I don't think anyone hates people who use filler words which are different from their own. Let's not go OTT.


Rhetorical exaggeration, some people do definitely look down on anyone they spot using them, failing to analyze their own speech and realizing they're using them just as much themselves.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#54  Postby Fallible » Mar 07, 2013 12:14 pm

If you'd said that I probably wouldn't have disagreed.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#55  Postby Agrippina » Mar 07, 2013 1:19 pm

I don't think it's reasonable to "look down" on anyone for the way they speak. Looking down on them for hitting their kids or kicking their dogs, that's a different story altogether.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#56  Postby orpheus » Mar 07, 2013 1:31 pm

katja z wrote:
Zwaarddijk wrote:When we speak, there's a lot of things going on we don't think of _in that speaking_. One part of it has to do with taking turns. Since we tend to be able to speak faster than we generate things to say, we would have a lot of pauses in our speech if we didn't use filler words. Everyone uses filler words, and denying it just showcases that you don't know how you speak. If you don't think you do, someone should record you unawares - your filler words will be quite obvious.

I tried for a while avoiding filler words just as an experiment. Guess what happens?

Those you speak with take the silence as a cue that it's their turn to start talking! It's basically a way to trigger interruptions and the discussion gets weird and can't really be carried out naturally. Filler words have a function. An important function. 


This.

I think we notice it because they diverge from the written standard. Which is just that, the written standard - with a somewhat different pragmatics. We never write quite the way we speak, and that isn't (only) for lack of education, but because writing and speaking have some different possibilities and constraints. The trouble is that we're so steeped in a written tradition that people (including linguists, for a pretty long time) often forget that writing is a secondary linguistic phenomenon; spoken language is the primary form of language, with its own dynamics, and it should logically be understood (and judged) on its own terms. (Things get rather interesting in phenomena that are clearly on the border between the two, such as giving a formal, pre-prepared (pre-written) speech - but this is rather different from informal everyday communication.)

More narrowly on topic, in spoken language, there is, for instance, no punctuation. The role is taken by intonation and, often, other pragmatic markers. "So" or "Well" to begin an utterance are much like a capital letter to begin a written sentence (or even like an indent to begin a new paragraph). Similarly, "like" often has a function analogous to quotation marks. And so on.


To a certain extent I agree with you about the purpose of filler words. However, that can't be the entire reason, since people will use filler words even when there is no chance of them being interrupted (e.g., giving an ill-prepared public speech, speaking into a tape recorder). In those cases, the filler words seem to come when the speaker isn't sure exactly what to say next. Why that should be the case, I don't know. 

I do not think an initial "Well" or "So" functions as the equivalent of a capital letter (intriguing though the idea is). Two reasons: 1) If that were the case, then all spoken sentences would require such a "signal" word, or they would seem wrong. Clearly, this is not the case. 2) take a spoken sentence that does begin with "so" or "well", remove that initial word, and the sentence still sounds fine, intelligible, and usually improved.

Edited to add: Having said all that, I do think you're right that written and spoken language are really two different things. I simply think there are different differences. (How's that for clear and elegant writing?) When reading, one can pause, look back over previous sentences and paragraphs to be sure of context, etc. A listener to speech cannot do this. Therefore, in speech one takes this into account by using (for example) shorter sentences and more repetition of points made. This is one reason why lecturers who read a prepared written text tend to be less successful at reaching their audience. Conversely, some written text reads like transcribed speech, and suffers as a result. (Often this is found in student papers and blog posts.)
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#57  Postby Briton » Mar 07, 2013 1:37 pm

Blood wrote:
orpheus wrote:I've noticed this as well. It often seems to be a substitute for "Well". Thus, instead of:

Q: "How did you come up with that idea?"
A: "Well, I was sitting at home one day..."

we now have:

Q: "How did you come up with that idea?"
A: "So, I was sitting at home one day..."

It's fucking irritating. I don't know when it started, but I began to notice it late last year.


It seems to be a recent meme that only started rolling within the last couple of years. I guess you could credit the ever-increasing breakdown of education, especially in the USA, which has instead been replaced by social media. In the years of my youthful training (1970s), it must have been beaten into me that only an idiot would begin a sentence with "so" (unless you're asking a question), because I literally don't remember ever talking this way.


As has been pointed out...it seems prevalent amongst highly educated people.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#58  Postby katja z » Mar 07, 2013 1:52 pm

orpheus wrote:
To a certain extent I agree with you about the purpose of filler words. However, that can't be the entire reason, since people will use filler words even when there is no chance of them being interrupted (e.g., giving an ill-prepared public speech, speaking into a tape recorder). In those cases, the filler words seem to come when the speaker isn't sure exactly what to say next. Why that should be the case, I don't know.

Well, I'm not arguing they are *always* functional, only that they *do* have certain functions in oral communication that are often overlooked.
Interestingly, the second situation you mention are quite far removed from ordinary oral communication (I hesitate to use the word "natural" here, although it has been used in this sense). In fact, in some aspects - although not in the medium - it's closer to written communication, where there's a delay between production and reception. (Conversely, some written forms these days, notably text messaging and also online forum communication to an extent, share some characteristics of oral communication, especially its immediacy, the direct exchange in real time.)

I do not think an initial "Well" or "So" function as the equivalent of a capital letter (intriguing though the idea is). Two reasons: 1) If that were the case, then all spoken sentences would require such a "signal" word, or they would seem wrong. Clearly, this is not the case. 2) take a spoken sentence that does begin with "so" or "well", remove that initial word, and the sentence still sounds fine, intelligible, and usually improved.


Yes, it's not a perfect analogy (in fact I think the other analogy I provided (the indent) was better). Anyway, the idea isn't that the sentence wouldnt' be well-formed without one of these words, but that they perform a situational role - attracting the other's attention (like throat-clearing - a sign of "I'm going to say something"), or signalling a change or theme, or whatever. I'm not saying it's not possible to overdo on these things (linguistic "tics" obviously do exist), or even that everything in everyone's speech is functional. What some of us have been saying is simply that there are often good reasons why oral communication uses specific elements that are not found in (standard) written communication.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#59  Postby Agrippina » Mar 07, 2013 2:02 pm

Also there are different styles appropriate to different occasions. When writing online, I for one, don't use the same language I use when writing an academic essay. Funnily enough, just yesterday, I spent the day editing essays for a student doing a third-year English course. Most of my editing was to correct her casual language. She literally (and I mean literally) wrote the essays the way she speaks: using colloquialisms, filler words, casual use of split infinitives and so on. When we speak we don't say for instance "the is the man to whom I shall be writing a letter!" We'd probably say "I'm going to write to that guy over there!" or "...that person you told me about." So, [sic] there is a distinct difference between the way we speak, the way we write conversational prose, and the way we lecture, or write formal dissertations.
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Re: Beginning sentences with "so"

#60  Postby Zwaarddijk » Mar 07, 2013 2:06 pm

Agrippina wrote:Also there are different styles appropriate to different occasions. When writing online, I for one, don't use the same language I use when writing an academic essay. Funnily enough, just yesterday, I spent the day editing essays for a student doing a third-year English course. Most of my editing was to correct her casual language. She literally (and I mean literally) wrote the essays the way she speaks: using colloquialisms, filler words, casual use of split infinitives and so on. When we speak we don't say for instance "the is the man to whom I shall be writing a letter!" We'd probably say "I'm going to write to that guy over there!" or "...that person you told me about." So, [sic] there is a distinct difference between the way we speak, the way we write conversational prose, and the way we lecture, or write formal dissertations.


Split infinitives probably are going to gain ground in academic language though, as it's pretty well recognized among people that it's an artificial rule with no actual historical basis in English grammar except that some 18th century grammarian disliked it and made a rule up.
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