Saturday, June 06, 2009

So, why do so many tech speakers begin sentences with "so"?

So, I've been listening to lots of excellent technical talks on the internet lately, Pycon 2009 and Google IO for example. Perhaps it's just me, but one weird trend stands out for me, very often speakers either begin their talk, begin a new paragraph, or begin an answer with the word So.

WikiAnswers even has an answer on this. Yes, it's not grammatical.

But why is it so common?

"So" suggests the speaker is continuing a previous train of thought. So is a conjunction that can be used to connect two clauses.

Perhaps it's a way for a slightly anxious speaker to launch into their talk with a feeling that they are already on a roll rather than starting from a cold start.

In any case, it's a redundant element at the start of a sentence, that seems to have crept into wide use. I hope it dies out.

The ability to access the content of fantastic conferences via the internet is extremely valuable. Being there is great but after a long flight can be very tiring.

I wish Apple would live stream WWDC so I could count the so's.


Zeb Palmer said...

so. I really wish you weren't talking about me.

Anonymous said...

what. ever. Grammatical rules become codified when they are used often enough. So, maybe this so thing is just in the process of becoming grammatically conventional (note the purposeful use of so at the beginning of this sentence).

It's like fashion- once everyone is wearing it, it's then ok (except for wearing leggings as pants. That will never be acceptable).

So,I think the we should be encouraging this use of 'so', seems like a great convention.

Christopher said...

I first noticed the use of "So" for starting a sentence on a visit to California in around 1999. It is funny that you bring the subject of starting a sentence with "So" as, since that time, I've been having to think hard about not starting my sentences that way!

Anonymous said...

I noticed this as well. I'm in the tech field and hear this a lot, but didn't know it was limited to techies.

I actually wondered if it started building a kind of "critical mass" in American speech when power players started speaking that way it and influencing others to use it to impress.

As far as I can tell, it's not showing any signs of dying out as of 2013.