Have you noticed how many people start sentences with “So” or “Okay so” when answering questions – we see this with academic lectures, on TV news, as well as our leaders, sports stars and heroes. But if, using “So” to start a sentence is considered bad grammar, why do we do it, how do we stop, and/or is it already too late – has society spoken, have our English Teachers been forgotten? Let’s talk.
You see, I do remember growing up and when I used ‘so’ to start a sentence and pause before completing the sentence, my mother who was an educator, English Teacher, would say; “SO, so what, sew buttons on your underwear” and this was her way of preventing me from doing that as a child. Not everyone has such a good influence or role model, but if more teachers at school corrected students, there would be less of that. Including all the English Teachers who work overseas – teaching in places like Japan, China, Philippines, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. etc. along with other nations in South East Asia, Middle East, and the African and South American continents.
Worse I suppose is the improper usage in academia, as I mentioned in lectures, and in government talks, on CSPAN, congressional hearings, even Bernanke and the current gal running the FED when answering questions from reporters. NASA scientists explaining their missions in laymen’s terms use “so” at the beginning of a sentence, so too do Canadian academics here on our side of the pond.
We’d have our work cut out for us to change this trend. Do we let this one go, and work on more important misuses of the English Language, the kinds of misuses that cause miscommunication, things that can lead to political impasse or turn normal conversations into pissing contests of ego responses?
Yes, more people are talking about it, and someone cited a couple of nice links to popular magazines, and I clipped an article that discussed this in the Wall Street Journal not long ago. it’s getting some ink, some thought, but it may be too late as the trend is full-blown, world-wide, even with brand new English speaking folks, just coming on board for the first time. We see it in emails, writing and speech almost everywhere.
Where do we go from here? Is Grammar 101 still relevant? What do new software programs like Grammarly say about things like this? If our top university professors are doing it, has academia already decided, are we to throw out the grammar book and follow? Does it even matter?