Chapter published in:Voices Past and Present - Studies of Involved, Speech-related and Spoken Texts: In honor of Merja Kytö
Edited by Ewa Jonsson and Tove Larsson
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 97] 2020
► pp. 208–225
Explaining explanatory so
This chapter examines a recent use of so in spoken British English, namely as a discourse marker conveying acceptance of an invitation to take the floor and give an explanation. I demonstrate a long-term increase in turn-initial so, dating the specifically ‘explanatory so’ to the 2010s in Britain. Evidence comes from corpora of academic discourse, of media language and especially of conversation. I argue that the usage is a coalescence of several well-attested discourse uses of so, perhaps strengthened by transatlantic influence. I explain the often hostile public reaction by the sentence grammar of so, also offering a general hypothesis about what makes an innovation salient and objectionable to conservative speakers.
Keywords: discourse markers, initial so , current change, language attitudes, result clauses
Published online: 05 October 2020
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