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This is SO annoying

Quite recently there has developed a habit of prefixing answers with an illogical and gratuitous "So". Listen to almost any interview on the radio to hear some examples.

Q. Why is it that we hear so many reports of whales beaching themselves these days?
A. So there are various theories about this but no one really knows.

"So" imples a consequence of some kind. "Whales beach themselves so we are trying to find out why." But it is actually quite difficult to think of a question to which it would be logical to give an answer starting with "So". In fact, offhand I can't think of one. The best I can come up with is something like:

Q. Why did you steal a million pounds from the bank?
A. So that I could have a nice holiday in the Bahamas.

But this use of "So" is different from the one I am referring to here.

In this new and annoying usage, "so" is really a meaningless interjection, which is in some ways equivalent to the longer-established habit of starting with "Well". Yet it is curiously addictive; more and more people are doing it, and I have an awful feeling that I shall soon catch myself falling into the habit as well. So I shall try hard to avoid it.


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