We’ve heard it a thousand times. As we grow older, we notice it more so – we echo the refrain more often. “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Bob Dylan put the words to music in his 1964 classic ballad, and folks before and after agree. And, the world seems to change faster now than it did 50 years ago.
Fashion, technology, social mores, entertainment, architecture – we see rapid, as opposed to evolutionary, changes in those and most areas of our lives. Those who have chosen a life off-the-grid may be the exception.
I understand why change happens, but it seems that our use of the English language should remain more constant.
This is not a weighty post about why we have many non-English-speakers in our country. Nor is it a discussion of scientific and technical terms created within industry and business. I am not going to comment on the deluge of acronyms imposed on our culture by way of texting. I am resisting the urge to have fun with decades of really goofy fad words (or fine words used in goofy ways). Groovy, slammin’, dude, righteous, pad, hot mess, total babe, gag me with …
I said I was resisting!
No. My beef is with the word “so.” That’s what I said – “so.” It’s a puny little word. It really means nothing, unless I distort the spelling of it and pretend it’s actually the word Maria referenced when she taught scales to the musically-inclined von Trapp kids.
Saying the word “so” is like saying “well,” but not in the sense of state of being. It is a mere transition, an introduction to a sentence at the beginning of a conversation. But, today young people (25 and under is my best guess) are using it in the place of two words I heard all about in my speech classes and professional workshops some years back.
“So” is replacing “um” and “ah.” Nay, has replaced.
How many of you went through school repeatedly hearing that we should eliminate those extra “um’s” as we speak, particularly in public? How many of you worried during presentations that you might falter and let some “ah’s” escape? Those utterances could easily deem one lacking in confidence, or unprepared; they could cause “A” content to result in a “B.”
Now, along comes “so.” I blame reality TV. Participants use certain expressions repeatedly. For example, with brilliant introductory comments like “having said that” or “with that being said,” they cast presumably life-changing votes and dole out destiny-determining gifts.
I recently heard an interview on a St. Louis news station, and in it the interviewer was communicating with a group of very bright, accomplished science students who were explaining their work in robotics or a similar field. While I don’t remember the details of the interview, the question-answer part went something similar to this:
Interviewer: When did you first get into X?
Respondent #1: So, we always enjoyed working together, and we …
Interviewer: Where did you obtain the resources needed to pursue your project?
Respondent #2: So, as a group, we used crowd funding, and…
Interviewer: What are your goals with your invention?
Respondent #3: So, our plans are to…
Dazzle the world with the use of the word “so!”
You get my point. Obviously, gifted young people were completely ignoring the long-standing role of “um” and substituting “so.” I say if “um” is not needed in these cases, neither is “so.”
It was distracting, as you can see. I really don’t remember the good stuff at all. I’m so over it!
Here’s where “so” belongs:
“So, how’s that cold beer taste, my friend?”
(This photo was taken at the end of Prohibition, which occurred on December 5, 1933. My life-long friend shared the photo with me. For local readers, it is my grandfather, Alvin Adams, Sr., on the right and her grandfather, Reggie Crouse, left. She estimated they were about sixteen at the time.)
“There has been a lot of wind, so the leaves are really falling.”
(Taken in the early eighties, I believe, this is my paternal grandmother, me, and my mom on a lazy fall day at Grandma’s. There aren’t many of those in 2015. Notice the seat is a painted tractor tire.)
“You’re sooo big.”
(I’m feeling melancholy these days since this beautiful boy is now a senior in high school and 18 years old. I tried to crop out the mess, but couldn’t get rid of it all. That’s okay, though. Nothing about raising kids is neat and tidy!)
I enjoy a good rant about words, but few things are as special as a long-awaited drink with an old friend, a crisp autumn day spent with family, or a freshly-bathed baby in a clean white onesy.
So… that’s all I’ve got for today.
Have a Thoughtful Thursday!