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Archive for August 3rd, 2013

So,.?!

So what? So huge! So that we could. So, the conclusion is firm.

So much intonation, emotion, implication, connection, conclusion, in short, communication in so small a word. In reality the word may most usually be eliminated or another word substituted without harming the simple meaning of a sentence, but the passion of the argument or apathy conveyed will frequently be lost as well. As with any word used to elicit reaction, overuse so downgrades the word to cliche status as to make it sound like a nervous twitch of a self-absorbed, shallow person we find annoying.

So what’s my point? In writing or in speech use words with high energy infrequently but to best effect.*

In a more pedantic sense ‘so’ may be used as four parts of speech:

adverb- in a manner suggested

conjunction- in order that or with the result that

adjective- conforming to actual facts

pronoun- as specified or to suggest estimate

The definitions I am giving are minimal and devoid of example, both of which I leave to the reader to search out, but they do point to a common purpose for the word which is to intensify language by directing the hearer to intended cause and effect.

Another way of saying it is ‘so’ emphasizes the part of the meaning the user most wants you to understand. If I say, “I want it done”, the hearer only knows that I expect completion. But if I say, “I want it done so,” I intensify or focus on the mode of completion given in the instructions. “So, you want the blue one” does not simply affirm that I heard your desire, but additionally intensifies the fact that I understand why you say you want the blue one by connecting my acknowledgement back to your reasons. If a person, for effect, wants to heighten intensity of speech regularly for the purpose of attention, the actual result will be to lessen its intensity and any hearer’s interest in it. We have all heard this mode of operation in the person who uses a word like ‘awesome’ continually. “That was so awesome!” He is an awesome singer.” “That was an awesome shot. “He had an awesome hangnail.” You get the point.

This intensity of communication is somewhat lost in writing. A speaker may use intonation of voice tone or duration and gesturing and facial expression when using ‘so’ for maximum affect. The best that may be done in writing is to set the scene, convey the speaker’s attitude, or spell the word incorrectly: “sooooooo”.

With so much serious discussion of a word you may have previously overlooked, perhaps a silly, aeshetic perspective might do. One famous singer rang out that ‘so’ was “a needle pulling thread” followed by ‘la’ and preceeded by “a long, long way to run”. 

This blog entry is obviously offbeat and markedly different than my usual fare, but it reveals a fascination I have long held for language meaning and use. Semantics and etymology are topics I have explored occasionally. God has given us a way to communicate our deepest desires and He has given us His profound truths in His Word. We explore, record, and convey our surroundings, our insides, and our God through language. I am thankful to its Creator for its existence and desirous of every full and good use of it for His glory. With out exaggeration He is so worthy of its proper and thankful use.

 

 *Conversely, don’t become so introspective in your writing, and more so in your speech, as to become stilted and unnatural in you communication. Neither dumb-down nor flatten your vocabulary for the expectations of the audience. Write for the benefit of others, but write in a way that communicates your own ideas in your own way. Concise and clear are desirable traits but should not stiffle crativity and personal preference.

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