So does it annoy you when people start sentences with 'so'?

It seems like everyone is doing it. So... we asked a linguistics expert where this usage of the word 'so' fits into the English language.

Is 'so' the new u'um'?

John Maytham receives numerous emails and messages from listeners saying that it annoys them when people answer questions beginning their sentence with 'so'.

He asked Prof. Mark de Vos Associate Professor at RU Linguistics Department about this usage in the English language.

de Vos says the earliest usage of 'so' stretches at least as far back as Old English and has been used by the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare.

There are 40 different definitions of the word 'so in the Oxford dictionary, and I saw that number 10b is actually the 'so' that we are talking about, where we use the word 'so' to introduce a topic, or a topic change.

Prof. Mark de Vos Associate Professor at RU Linguistics Department

'So, what are you doing on Friday night?' is an example of this and de Vos says in linguistics it can be used as a discourse marker, and it's function is phatic. Phatic communication means making communication channels clearer.

I have a feeling it may be linked to a phenomenon which begins sentences with 'and' or 'but'...and it may have reinvigorated this usage of 'so'.

Prof. Mark de Vos Associate Professor at RU Linguistics Department

Periods like the 1960s and 70s saw a progressive loosening up of control over those who would control the language.

Now with Facebook and Whatsapp, there are even more changes. New usages of languages are coming to the fore because of social media which is so prevalent in our society.

Listen to the entire conversation below:

Read More
Ramaphosa responds to rumors that he will pushed out of office next

Ramaphosa responds to rumors that he will pushed out of office next

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the growing rumors that he might be the next to be booted from Pres. Zuma's executive.

WATCH: Robben Island gets solar farm and goes green

WATCH: Robben Island gets solar farm and goes green

The island previously relied solely on diesel generators and has transitioned to solar energy, solar expert Dom Wills explains.

Smoke alarms reduce risk of deaths in shack fires, says researcher

Smoke alarms reduce risk of deaths in shack fires, says researcher

Researcher Patricia Zweig says smoke alarm can either catch fires and put them out or give shack dwellers enough time to escape.

Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa no-shows at Parly meeting

Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa no-shows at Parly meeting

Sassa sent a letter on Tuesday night saying it had nothing meaningful to report says EWN reporter Lindsay Dentlinger.

Stellies 'worm whizz' wants to know what fisherfolk use on their hooks

Stellies 'worm whizz' wants to know what fisherfolk use on their hooks

A marine biologist is leading a survey which aims to gain a better understanding of the demand on worms as bait along the coast.

This Cape Town man has been off the water grid by harvesting rainwater at home

This Cape Town man has been off the water grid by harvesting rainwater at home

Mechanical engineer Andy Cunninghame has proven that it is possible to save municipal water by harvesting and filtering rainwater.

Popular articles
Meet Whitey Basson (the retail guru who turned Shoprite into a R127bn behemoth)

Meet Whitey Basson (the retail guru who turned Shoprite into a R127bn behemoth)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews the former CEO of Africa’s largest retailer by far.

CT airport shooting attempted hit on gang boss allegedly linked to '28s' -expert

CT airport shooting attempted hit on gang boss allegedly linked to '28s' -expert

A policing expert explains that the airport shooting may be linked to the shooting at a Stellenbosch nightclub this past weekend.

Almost 30 million SA ID numbers compromised after site hacked

Almost 30 million SA ID numbers compromised after site hacked

Independent Marketing Consultant in the Technology Space, Andrew Fraser says this looks like a leak and not a hack.

Cape Town International Airport shooting could be gang related - ACSA

Cape Town International Airport shooting could be gang related - ACSA

The incident happened in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Kloof Street residents living in fear as crime multiplies

Kloof Street residents living in fear as crime multiplies

A Cape Town man was stabbed to death on Saturday while trying to assist two women who were being mugged on Kloof street.