web analytics

Auto- and Hetero-Referential so

What in an earlier post was characterized as “discourse-introductory so” should now receive a more expansive characterization in terms of REFERENCE, namely either to (1) what the speaker was/is thinking before beginning the utterance headed by so; or to (2) the content of an interlocutor’s utterance, to which the utterance headed by so is a retort.

This increasingly common discourse strategy in American English has an obvious binding and linking function, in that––for younger speakers in particular–– so has become an almost obligatory opening word without a strictly semantic function. It tends in fact to add little or nothing to the preceding or following content. In this respect it resembles the near-ubiquitous (and vacuous) word basically that one hears qualifying what would in earlier times be offered up without qualification.


Leave a Comment

156 feed subscribers
Readers with non-commercial queries and a personal e-mail address can click here:

Michael Shapiro: Sound and Meaning in Shakespeare's Sonnets
ePub $2.49 | Mobi $2.49

Michael Shapiro: The Speaking Self: Language Lore and English Usage

For free email notification of new blog posts, please enter your address in the field below, and then click Subscribe.

Michael Shapiro's Upcoming Appearances