My new kicks

April 5, 2008


What follows is a rant, or if you’re generous, it’s an observation of language in the style of William Safire.  When I was growing up, parents would always correct teenagers for interspersing “you know” and “like” as random filler into sentences.  Those words acted as a verbal crutch – a space filler.  In the online community today there are two verbal tics even more insidious: “so,” and “sort of.”  I’ve been listening to web conferences and entrepreneur interviews for over a year now nurturing this pet peeve. It’s a rare entrepreneur when asked a question that doesn’t inexplicably start his response with, “So…”   The word “so” has many meanings, but you get the sense that the intended usage here is “therefore” as if what follows is the conclusion of a well formulated argument, even though the word is used as the beginning of the thought..  The word dishonestly gives the authority of Q.E.D. to the often mundane ramblings that follow.  “Does your company have a plan to take market share from stronger and better financed competitors?”  “So, the plan we’ve outlined…” 


“Sort of” is the new “you know” or “like.”  I recently caught a Google executive unable to get through a single sentence without one or more “sort of’s.”  It’s a weasel word at it’s core: a disclaimer anything that follows, but it’s also a pseudo-intellectual glorifier:.  “what I’m offering here is an analogy or similar situation as a thought starter” rather than a coherent statement.  Probably the main reason why I hate this one is because I’m catching myself doing it.   You may think me over-sensitive, but once you’re aware of this you may find yourself as vexed as I am.  I hope this expose sort of does its small part to sort of remove this verbal sort of scourge from our conversation.