For many years, the late tosser Fitz and I would retire to his house after our weekly Tuesday-night pub session to drink loads of coffee and listen to music. Fitz was a big folk music fan, so he would invariably end up playing some Blowzabella. Blowzabella was a British folk band that specialised in playing droney instruments: violins, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies, that sort of thing. They were pretty magnificent.
I write in the past tense, because I always assumed Blowzabella stopped making music years ago. Imagine my surprise and delight earlier this week, therefore, when I learnt they're still going strong, and churning out magnificent rackets like this:
Richard: Yootle! Fitzroy: Sqigs! Richard: Snurt! Fitzroy: Shumplong! Richard: Tooey! Fitzroy: Kurks? Richard: Nek Kurks! Haddo! Fitzroy: abdrab - hink-hink! Richard: Nok! Fitzroy: Dwibby Dweeek! Richard: Fnep! Fitzroy: Peeeeeuuuurgggghhhhh! Richard: Handro nog! Fitzroy: Nga Nga! Ud. Richard: Tep! Fitzroy: pnuz! Richard: I bet you say that to all the girls. Fitzroy: Only when they ask me, which is often.
I spend over three hours commuting each day, so I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Most of them are made specifically as podcasts, while the rest are normal radio programmes converted into podcasts after they have been aired.
Many of the podcasts I listen to take the form of conversations between two or more people—either as formal interviews or informal chats. Over the last few months, I've begun to notice how many people in these conversations begin their answers to direct questions with the word so—even when what they are about to say is not a consequence of what they've said previously.
"How do you intend to vote in the next election?" a hypothetical questioner might ask.
"So I will be voting for X," might be the hypothetical response.
These sos are not at all necessary and get to be mildly irritating once you notice them. Which is why I'm mentioning them now: so that you will start to notice them, and will be equally mildly irritated.
I think it's an attempt to sound a bit more intelligent. If you begin a sentence with so, it implies that it logically follows on from what you were just saying—SO it stands to reason that you must be making a logical, cogent argument. Even when you're not.
It's not just a British thing. The Americans are up to it as well. In fact, they probably started it knowing them: I don't know why, but it just sounds American to me.
If, by any chance, you have picked up the new habit of using the word so in this way, please stop it. It doesn't make you sound more profound; it just makes you mildly irritating. And if you notice anyone else doing it, tell them from me to stop being so ridiculous.