Monday, June 30, 2014

So, there's a new bad English fad

So... since when has it become acceptable to start a sentence with "So..."?

Examples: "So... the stock market was up nearly 100 points today, in spite of large losses in the energy sector." That sentence was uttered by a supposedly educated business commentator on a TV newscast. But you hear it in everyday conversation too: "So... I'm walkin' down the street, eh, and this really big guy bumps into me..." Perhaps the speaker was not so well educated. [Certainly a Canuck! Ed.] Walt has even seen it in print (on the Net) in a post on a forum for... wait for it... English teachers! "So, I found a job in China, but now I changed my mind..."

My guess is that there has been so much criticism, on WWW and elsewhere, of the use of "like" as a "pause word" that people who wish to sound as if they've advanced beyond primary school have settled on "so" as a "higher-class" alternative. They must think "So..." sounds better than "Like...". It doesn't! So, let's stop using "So..." at the beginning of a sentence to signify, "Hey, I'm gonna talk now."

While I'm at it, may I plead, yet again, for the teaching of English vocabulary in journalism schools. Will those who write for the lamestream media please stop using words of whose meaning they are unsure! Examples:
"wrestle" for "wrest" - "The Iraqi army is trying to wrestle Tikrit back from ISIS"
"fulsome" for "full" - "A more fulsome report is expected tomorrow"

As Walt sees it, the problem is that "writers" no longer feel any need or to desire to be readers, first. They don't know less common words, like "fulsome" and "wrest", because they haven't read them, properly used, in the works of people possessed of vocabularies of more than 1000 words.

No, I'm not talking only about 19th-century writers, although Charles Dickens would certainly have known the proper meanings of "wrest" and "fulsome". There are plenty of modern writers, on both sides of the Atlantic, who have great (in the senses of "large" and "excellent") vocabularies. Looking at my bookshelf, I see: William F. Buckley, Bill Bryson, Graham Greene, Studs Terkel and of course Hunter S. Thompson. HST might not have used a word like "fulsome", but I'm sure he knew what it means.

Moral: Read first, then write.
Footnote: I except (not "accept") newsreaders from my criticism. They are only bingo-callers and meat puppets. They read only the autocue. The less-than-literate clods who write what's on the autocue are the real villains.

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