So have you noticed that people are using the word, "so" in nearly every sentence? Listen to your friends, radio hosts, co-workers, yourself, and before you know it you'll become so sick of the word, "so", you'll want to call everybody using it a dirty so and so.
So where does this so-called "so" abuse stem from? I blame Microsoft. Actually I blame the technology industry and in Seattle, where I live, Microsoft and technology are almost synonymous. But I hate corporate speak in general and the tech industry/MS is notorious for coming for generating more than its share. Want to put someone off? Try these, "I don't have enough bandwidth", "Let's take that offline." "Ping me later".
So why would Microsoft adopt and then flog the word "so"? Well because "so" serves the technology community very well. At Microsoft being smart is important over everything else – interpersonal skills, business acumen, so on and so forth, – and so, the word "so", makes you look smart.
"So" makes you look smart because it, like the words - thus, therefore, then, consequently, subsequently - implies that there's a conclusion about to be drawn; whether one is actually drawn, whether it was the speaker's, whether it was remotely related to the last thought.
To illustrate, I'll give personas (albeit very crude) for the types of people that commonly use the word "so", point out their motives and give some examples .
The Fast Talker/Interrupter. One way to demonstrate intelligence and importance is to talk fast. Talking fast implies fast thinking and that speaking fast is the only way to keep pace with those thoughts. In addition, talking fast indicates that the speaker is so busy he/she must communicate quickly in order to get onto the next task. Fast talkers may resent having to talk at all and prefer e-mail because they can type faster, can communicate one to many and don't have to repeat themselves verbally (way too time consuming). The "Fast Talker" is often an "Interrupter" and the Interrupter is a big fan of the word so. The technique often employed by the Interrupter is the stuttering "so" or "So, s-s-s, so". When uttered as such, the speaker can interrupt another speaker and express their thought. Thus ending talk on a subject or conversation and moving on. As in the example below the stuttering so is often employed by interrupters when being asked a question that they're unable to wait for the questioner to finish asking - saving valuable seconds and getting the issue resolved.
Question: "How do you plan to update without…?"
Interrupter: "So, s-s-s, so, we'll use AJAX to update that data without reloading the page".
The Dismisser. Part of being smarter can be having an idea first or having the final idea on a subject. The "Dismisser" has already decided on an issue saving others the trouble (and the breath). The Dismisser is fond of the "Yeah so". The "Yeah so", gives the impression of being agreeable ("yeah") thus lightening the blow of dismissing someone. However more often it just comes off as patronizing. "Yeah so..." we already had that idea. Or "Yeah so…" we decided to do this.
"Yeah so, we've decided to add a new window for each instance of the browser instead of using tabs. Tabs are so portal 1998"
The Staller. The "Staller" uses "so" in the way the sound "uhmm" is traditionally used. It fills any dead air between words and allows the speaker a moment to decide on their next word or thought. The drawn out so or "sooooo" is the preferred method of the staller. It gives the staller just a little more time to think and it provides the perception of a segue that led to a conclusion making the Staller sound more intelligent than the classic uhmm-er.
The Staller: "I'm not sure about your pay raise, sooooo, let me look into it, sooooo I'll get back to you soon, sooooo thanks."
So in conclusion, the word "so" is the new "uhmm". It also threatens "like", "I mean" and "you know" for the most overused words/phrases in conversational English.
So what are you waiting for? Make some comments!