Thursday, September 08, 2005

So I Just Killed and Ate My Grandmother

(Program Note: If you are an Israeli who has arrived at this post through a Google search on the phrase "When in the courfe of human events," please read this post and tell me what on earth you're up to.)

In a world far, far away and a time long passed into the mists of Yore (a small town in New Hampshire), I was a copy editor at an ultrafamous publishing company whose name I will disguise here as Satan and Shyster. Believing that this extremely junior position conferred on me by default the authority of decades of learning, I delighted in playing the role of Mister Language Person with friends and family, correcting dangling participles and split infinitives in their casual speech and writing with the benign assholery that can be displayed by only the most truly pedantic fuckwit.

I was saving the world from Poor Language, what can I say? That's good, isn't it?

Now in calmer early middle age, I've managed to find within myself the strength to forebear irritating those around me. I can now simply make myself

This usually works -- but I'm cursed constantly to have* a bell inside my head that goes klonnnnnggggg whenever a grammatical solecism, trite phrase, or poorly constructed sentence wallows into view. Sometimes I get a headache from it.

All of which serves to explain the gentle ringing between my ears in a meeting at work a few weeks ago. When asked to explain a particularly strange design request, the young representative of the Department of Strange Requests mentally cleared his throat by issuing a meditative "So..." and then finally rid himself of the explanation: "...Marketing would like to see blah-de-blah..."

(At this point I invariably go happily to Dreamland and a muted trombone takes over the sound of the speech. Nobody should have to actually pay attention to that -- Shit sorrysorrysorry -- Nobody should actually have to pay attention....)

This would have been only a tiny event, certainly not worth noting here, but since that one little throat-clearing "So..." a trickle has become the Thames. Everyone I meet is suddenly starting every goddamned sentence with a completely irrelevant and grammatically unnecessary "So." My bell is clanging like Notre Dame.

Have any of the rest of you noticed this?

"So pass me the salt, please?"

"So do you know what speed you were going, sir?" ("So you're the fast one around here, pig, why don't you tell me?")

"So when in the courfe of human events it becomes neffefary for one people..."

"So four score and seven years ago..."

"So now is the winter of our discontent turned glorious summer..."

What, to employ a trite phrase, the fuck is up with that?

*See? See?


Mudge said...

Maybe it's sow or sew. I always have trouble interpreting spoken homonyms.

So, as ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Or, to add to the list for Atrios,

Sew, a thread.

XTCfan said...

I think it's a tech-company thang. It goes along with a certain sing-song cadence and a willingness to laugh too easily at one's own jokes. At least, that's what I've observed here in software-development land.

Pssst, hey Ned ... comprise.

(Figured I might be able to get your mind off one annoyance by pointing out another. If comprise doesn't work, how about misplaced apostrophe's? Or "towards"? Or the incorrect use of "which"? Or "less" when "fewer" should be used? Or...)

Bill said...

My lovely wife does this, and I hate it. I don't call her on it, or on her other anoying verbal tic, which is to end telephone conversations, "Bye. Bye." There is a full stop between the two "byes" which makes me nuts.

Fortunately I am perfect, so nobody ever calls me on stuff like this.

blue girl said...

So whaddya sayin'? Do you know how these kind of posts effect me? Like, I'm sorta paranoid anyway. But, I'm gonna keep commenting on this site, cuz it really goes towards me building up my confidence.

So, I'll be back. But for now -- Bye. (full stop) Bye.

Neddie said...

So. Only the powerful impulse toward gentlemanliness prevents me from pointing out that the proper word in this case is comprised of "affect," GlueBirl.

Oh, damn. Slipped out.

Linkmeister said...


So what?


(I can't believe no one got to that before I did.)

Don Porges said...

I think I first read a complaint about this in some tech-industry book in the late 1990s. (Good luck Googling for this, huh?) But yeah, since then even my mother says it.

Gavin M. said...

What, to employ a trite phrase, the fuck is up with that?

Dunno, but the annoying regionalism here is to end every sentence with, "Or...?"

If the so-people and or-people ever get together, that will be unpleasant.

momula said...

The most grating on my ears are the people - mostly vapid women - who interject "ya know what I mean?" between every third sentence, usually in the midst of several paragraphs about, uh, uninteresting crap.

The "so" and "or..." people are just (bad) speech stylists... the "ya know what I mean?" people are constantly yet unconsciously revealing pathetic personality flaws.