Why the relatively recent fad of speakers starting a sentence (often in response to a question) with “so?” Example: “So, here’s what I did when I went to Europe …” What does the use of the word “so” at the beginning of a sentence tell you about the speaker, if anything?
Also, when did the pronunciation of the word “to” switch over to “tuh,” and the word “for” switch to “fir” in common usage? Is this laziness on the part of the speaker, or is there something else at play here?
We talked about “sentence-initial so” in this segement.
As for the pronunciation of “to” and “for”: vowels are highly variable in English, in short words no less than long ones. There are many pronunciations of “to,” for example, going back centuries, all of them reflecting mass behavior that is characteristic of a dialect. “Tae” for “to,” for example, has long been associated with Scots English.
‘You ask, so here it is…’
…except that it’s often a conversation starter. Tonight my wife and I had dinner at our favorite bar. A fellow walked in, saw an old friend who had been away for five years, and asked, “So, when did you get back to town?”
I suppose it could be the continuation of their last conversation. I don’t find it objectionable, particularly in conversation, but I find it distinctly odd when someone looking for guidance or instruction starts a thread on a forum with, “So I tried to make this…”
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