Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier

Where Did ‘So…” Come From?


By Fran Syverson


“So”—so where did it come from? Why is it so ubiquitously the first word of response to so many questions nowadays?

“What are your objections to the proposed legislation?” asks the reporter.

Says the interviewee, “So, it seems to take a certain stance ……..”

Or: “If he refuses to answer your demands….”

“So, first we need to clarify….”

Or: “What was the first big break in your early…”

“So, it was really a lucky….”

Have you noticed it? Whether on television or radio, there it is—what I call a “hiccup” of speech!


These hiccups arrive and leave in cycles, it seems. At one time, the response would have been, “Well, as it appears to me, the athletes….” Now it’s apt to be “So, as it appears to me…”

I know, I know, such words are an unconscious (usually) device to allow the respondent to gather his or her thoughts before framing the answer. Others, which give even more of a pause are “At the end of the day….” and “The bottom line is…” They’re perennials; they’ve been around a long time.

Hiccups often are so prevalent we scarcely notice them. And they’re not always at the beginning of a sentence. Remember “like”? I’ve actually heard someone being interviewed—and even simply someone making conversation—interject “like” into a sentence six times! Utterly meaningless, but there it is! True, we may simply not hear it, blotting it out of our minds. It’s a bit like shooting a photo of a gorgeous scene only to discover later that ugly power lines clutter the picture. It’s a kind of mental subtraction of theclutter while we focus on what we want to see or hear.

On one hand, we might not even truly hear the inserted “like”. Other the other, once we start hearing it, it can grate on one’s ear like chalk scratching on a blackboard, sending a chill with every repetition.

So—now I’ve gone and done it. You’ll begin noticing “So…” every time you hear it! Like chalk on the blackboard. Then perhaps you, like me, will wonder: “Where did ‘So…’ come from?”



5 thoughts on “Where Did ‘So…” Come From?

  1. Your words bring new awareness. Thank you. (It’s so much easier to read in email because the font is larger than the WCW post)

  2. So, I’m a non-native English speaker and when I translate ‘so’ it’s a filler in the sentence. I also use it for emphasis instead of ‘therefore.’ I might be wrong all along but for me ‘so’ is a word which connects distinct thoughts.

  3. Oh, Fran! Nicely done. I’ve been noticing how overused “so” is lately. I enjoyed your post. Thank you for wondering along with me why so has become the latest, as you say so well, hiccup in speech patterns. I even now commonly hear, “So…yah,” to end someone’s comments, as if to say, “Thts all I have to say.” Odd and it is like chalk scratching.

  4. Well, like I think this is so interesting. So, I’ll try not to hiccup. Ha Ha. Kay

  5. When you are right Fran, you are right. Ever since you pointed out how many people also reply to certain statements with “no problem,” when they have used it incorrectly, I’ve discovered how common it is. Now I will be hearing “so” with exponential frequency!


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