I recently somehow realized I had developed and maintained a speech affectation and I found it quite disturbing. It seemed whenever I vocalized a thought, I prefaced it with the conjunction “so.”
In other words, “So, Harry. So How’s the prostate?”
“So, what did your sister say, again?”
“So, do you want to go for Italian or Chinese?”
“So, how was the book club last night?”
I have no idea how long I had developed this mannerism. Clearly I had been speaking like this for at least several months. Perhaps years.
I also have no idea how I had come to this realization. This had arrived with the same impact as having looked down to find a very red and very new scratch on my hand without previously having been made aware of its existence.
I brought this to my wife’s attention. Turns out she was well aware of this.
“Hey babes. I just noticed something about myself.” She grunted her disinterest clearly thinking I was going to make some crude comment in order to pathetically entice her towards intimacy at what was clearly an inconvenient time. I pressed on. “Hey babes,” I repeated. “I just realized I have a bit of a speech affectation.”
“ungh hmm” was her preoccupied guttural reply.
“I just realized that I oftentimes start my sentences with the word, ‘so’. Did you ever notice that?”
She acknowledged. “Mmm hmmm.”
I attempted to engage her in at least the smallest semblance of repartee.
“Well I’ve decided to filter that out because I think it’s a pretty annoying speech affectation.”
She decided to give me the briefest of consideration. With a slight turn towards me, actually it was more of a motion towards her right shoulder, she issued the following observation, “Yeah I’ve noticed it. No big deal.”
Well. I was struck with two sensations. Firstly, I was not imagining this. In my own mind this was somewhat comforting, somehow. Secondly, as usual, I was making more of this than was necessary.
Nevertheless, I had decided this was yet another aspect of my overly flawed personality that needed to be addressed by applying strong doses of self discipline and self awareness. Being fortunate in possessing these characteristics, the self help program began in earnest.
I came to realize by engaging yet another filter that this bit of eccentricity was more prevalent than I had initially realized. In fact there were times I found myself sputtering this mono syllabic conversational prelude before I had realized it had been voiced.
At this point, this has been now substantially tamed.
I am now aware of others who begin their sentences with these utterances.
Linguists have a name for the these types of words. Normally, linguists reference exclamations such us “uh”, “er”, “uhmm”, etc as filler. I propose the word “so” is just such a thing. Some refer to these types of words as Paralanguage.
Paralanguage is recognized as anything that does not directly pertain to the linguistic aspect of the communication at hand.
Regardless. This is yet another area designed to assist me in becoming a more fluent speaker.
So, you think this might apply to you?