Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meet “So”, the new “Um”…

A few months ago I started noticing that on a number of the podcasts I listen to the word “So” began to get a lot more play. Specifically, people were using it as a lead into what they were going to say. It was different, not necessarily grammatically correct, but convenient and somewhat intriguing.

For example:

“I was making breakfast this morning, and …”


“So (long pause), this morning I was making breakfast and…”

Over the past month, it seems to have jumped to office speak as well. It has become impossible for me to get through a phone call or meeting without people using it right and left. Oddly, the world “like” has dropped out of site. I should say that I’m as guilty of this as anyone else and the more aware of it I become, the troublesome it is to me.
Of interesting note is that in yoga, “Soham” is a mantra, which means, “I am That”. When using the mantra, "So" is pronounced during inhalation and Ham during exhalation.

So, what’s the deal with "So"? Why has it invaded the business speak like a verbal bird flu? It does not seem to have yet achieved “ducks in a row” status as being a horribly overused phrase, but I do not think this is from lack of trying.


  1. Hiya Dave,

    In listening to Toastmasters speeches, it's funny how many folks use "so" as one of their filler words - it's almost as common as "uh" or "um." I love this club as a means of helping folks (and me!) become better and more confident speakers. It is truly amazing to have a place where you can be practice your skills in a safe environment and receive instant feedback from like-minded folks. Even well-seasoned speakers can benefit from participation. :)


  2. I have really enjoyed making people come read this (it is also posted on Gantthead) and then listening to them talk. Each of them seems to get stuck switching back and forth between So and Um over and over.

    Thanks for the comment.