The last few months have seen the regular annual influx of new graduate joiners at work, which means two things: a temporary tendency for the building to smell of Lynx and a permanent increase in the number of people who start every answer to a question with the word “so”.
This habit used to be mostly limited to academics in economics, psychology and related fields, especially if they were American, but spread throughout humanities and social sciences and now is everywhere. I do semi-seriously wonder if universities actually teach this explicitly rather than just by example. Presumably someone thought it sounded better than saying “er” or “um” when they need a little while to work out what they are going to say, and it just escalated.
Unbelievably that is not the only way the word “so” is catching on. There is an even more irritating verbal tic, where people use it to end a spoken sentence. It is like they realise that what they are saying is utterly predictable and just let the though fade with “so…”. It crops up a lot with quiz show contestants on TV who might say something like “Well I enjoy reading and watching films and I have a 2-year-old daughter so…”
Is this new? I am wondering if it is one of those things that everyone (including me) does and has been doing for ages, but you don’t notice it, and then when you do consciously register it you can’t un-hear it.
Well that’s my audition for the next series of Grumpy Old Men sorted out, so…