Lately CJ has a habit of ending every story he tells by saying
I first noticed it this summer, so I think he picked it up from his camp counselors. What does it mean? I tend to read it as something like
“I have told my story — what conclusions can we draw from it? Who can say? It is what it is.”
Is that roughly right? Per the always useful Urban Dictionary the phrase is
“used when relating a past event and teller is unsure or too lazy to think of a good way to conclude it”
but I feel like it has more semantic content than that. Though I just asked CJ and he says it’s just his way of saying “That’s all.” Like “Over and out.”
Stefan used to do the same exact thing, and it annoyed me to no end. I would be expecting a conclusion of a story, and what I’d get is “And… Yeah.”
It seems to be going away, slowly.
Being a Wisconsin resident, I’m surprised he hasn’t picked up ‘and so.’ as a way to end sentences/paragraphs/stories.
To me, as an old fogey, it conveys “I guess that’s my whole story, because I can’t think of anything else I want to add”, with a hint of “Sorry to just trail off like that …” But I imagine that for Kids Today it’s really just a spoken equivalent of “The End”.
I like the close on the affirmative. Maybe he’s taken the pledge to reject cynicism.
Is it essential that the story is relating a past event, and not a fictional story? Perhaps the speaker is answering the listener’s phantom rhetorical question, “Wow, that really happened?”
The key word here is, “So… ,” which recently in the U.S. typically begins almost every presentation by someone under 30. The word connotes submission to a process of debriefing, as well as powerlessness and submergence of personality in the face of a world of which the speaker acknowledges him or herself as fundamentally insignificant.
Good observation Ralph. I don’t know about the acknowledgment of insignificance though, to me it feels more like laziness than anything else. We have all learnt how important it is that (most of) our sentences contain words that give clues to how the sentence fits in the overall story. Two special cases of this: (1) when beginning a presentation we’ve been taught to present our audiences with the motivation behind our story, and doing this in a way that is as compelling as possible, and (2) when a sentence follows logically from the previous one, we may indicate this by prefixing it by the word “so”. To my mind, people unconsciously substitute the second for the first since it’s less work, while they still feel they have complied with the general practice of providing clues to the story-structure.
I seem to use this if I forget how I wanted to state my conclusion. Words are a bit difficult for me like that. Its cadence is unmistakable, though, so its use as an end-of-lemma marker makes some sense.
I’m reminded of Vonnegut’s classic, frequently repeated “So it goes.”
Jan, I still think “so” in that context indicates that the speaker is acknowledging his/her own subservience to the person who gave the order to speak. I don’t think anyone delivering a TED talk would be likely to start it with “So” — because a TED speaker has to take full responsibility for the content and delivery. No one made that person get up on stage.
It turns out that’s how you pronounce “∎”
As it happens, my boss (who’s from the west) frequently ends a short disquisition with “So . . .” It may be my own jaded viewpoint, but I tend to interpret it as a passive-aggressive way of demanding a response from the listener; that is, the interlocutor is required to produce the rest of the sentence that the “So . . .” begins.
In my experience, “so, yeah” is used when the conclusion of a story can be inferred by the listener, and is better left unsaid. This can be because the speaker doesn’t want to say something the listener has already concluded, or (perhaps more commonly) there is some other social reason to not be so explicit about the conclusion.
“I saw Mark walking down the street with Jen today….so…..yeah…” [paired with a knowing look]
Combines two of my three least favorite linguistic trends. The first is beginning a sentence with “So”. For some reason, this has become a way to initiate an explanation–a weak “therefore”, a friend calls it. From there, it became a way to start a sentence. The second is the evolution of “yeah” into a complete thought. It is not just the ending of a story, but somehow implied by the speaker that it encapsulates the entire rest of the story, which you already understand, so s/he merely has to say “yeah”, and you know what they would’ve said. By the way, the third of my top three is combining the affirmative and the negative, as in starting a sentence with “Yeah no . . . ” or “No yeah . . . “
We talked about “Yeah, no” on the blog already! https://quomodocumque.wordpress.com/2008/05/20/yeah-no-ich-heisse-leon/