The word “so” brings out strong feelings, it turns out.
A public radio host who interviews scientists, when asked what they should do differently, said he sees it as a repetitive distraction. He says, “Stop starting every discussion with the word ‘so.’ You ask a scientist, ‘Why is the sky blue?’ and they say, ‘So…’.”
On The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, Carolyn Bledsoe chalks it up to a mental pause, a replacement for “um.” She said, “The more sophisticated speakers have stopped saying ums, ers, and ahs. Instead they have started using ‘and,’ ‘so,’ ‘then.’ When evaluating these speakers, I remind them of sentences that became paragraphs because of these words. Instead of a period, they now need pauses.”
Maria Elena Poulos came to the defense of “so,” saying, “‘So’ used correctly in a sentence or presentation can be most powerful. … It can connect the speaker with a direct point.”