Is “So” is the New “Well”? Fun Trends in Verbal Throat-Clearing

So have you noticed that no one on the news can begin a sentence without the word “so”?

So this has been happening with such frequency on TV and radio news, from anchors to reporters to people-on-the-street-answering-questions, it has me wondering: where did this habit come from?

So they do it in a way that pays no attention to the meaning of the word, as in “thus” or “for that reason”. So they’re just saying “so” as a kind of motivational noise, like the grunt we older people make when rising from a sofa.

So there’s no comma. So it’s not, “So, what I mean is…” So it’s more like: “I am starting to speak now.”

So it’s also not just newsy people priming their sentences with “so.” So it’s regular people, friends of mine…even, to my bemusement, myself!

(So if I hear The Mate say, “So I’ll be working on the gutters this morning,” I will consider that as a sign of impending Apocalypse.)

So it’s also showing up now in print, like on Facebook and blogs. So I’d give an example, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. So keep an eye out for it, and you’ll soon see what I mean.

So, when did this start? (So did you notice–that time I actually used the word properly, logically, as in, “Okay, people, let’s think about this”?)

(Orig. photo by Abigail Porter)

So I’m also wondering, is this just an American thing? So you folks in other countries, are you prefacing your English sentences with “so”?

So another question: what did we use as sentence skid-greasers before “so”? So was it “well”?

So I think it was “Well.” So it might also have been “Um,” or “ah.” So maybe in Ireland it was “sure.” So maybe it still is. So you go, Ireland!

So what do you think? 

Teen Slang Contest Results: And The Sick, Epic Winner Is…

Winners, actually. Several classrooms of ’em.

I got some great responses in my last post’s Teen Slang Contest, What’s current slang for “good”? Some folks just dived in with their best guess–some as hopelessly out of date as my attempts. Others asked their kids. But the winner did the smartest thing: she asked a WHOLE BUNCH OF KIDS.

Easy for her, because this week’s contest winner, Marie Muai Laban, happens to be a teacher at Ford Middle School in Tacoma ! So she just asked for responses from three different classes, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Here’s what she got:

Swag, dope, oohh kill ’em (?), filthy, fine, crunch, awesome, clutch, that’s dipped, boss, sick, tight, beast and a few that’s bomb. 

Did I mention that Marie used to be my own student, once upon a time at Franklin Pierce High School? I’m so proud.



Still, I can’t help but notice a few things in this list.

“Awesome” has been around since the 80s, so it’s nice to see there are still a few kids in middle school who listen to their parents.

Likewise “clutch”–or maybe it’s making a comeback.

And speaking of comebacks, “boss”? All the way back from the 1950s? That’s–well, that’s just boss.

“Sick” was seconded by Nate Drew, the 13 year-old son of my friend Gianna Drew, and by my 21 year-old son, so they are Runners-Up.

Honorable Mention goes to Christi Angermeir, who came up with “epic”. Duh! Epic is awesome. Clutch. Dare I say boss?

So, a swag prize will be heading down to Tacoma this week. Since the quarter has just ended and Marie won’t be seeing those exact classes again, I’m just going to send a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, which she can distribute as she sees fit…or keep ’em all herself. Either way would be just dope with me.

Thanks for playing! See you at the next contest!

So That’s What the Kids Are Calling it These Days: What’s “good” Now, If Not “bad”?

Update me, people!

I know, I can’t even remember the last time I had a “Word!” Slang Contest on Wing’s World. Probably so long that no one even says “Word!” anymore.

I’ve started Book Three of my trilogy, and I need modern terms for “good.” In the 80s, really good things were “bad.” In the 90s things were “wicked good” (more in the Northeast, maybe). More recently, “killer,” as in “That was some killer onion dip!”

(orig. image courtesy

(orig. image courtesy

Over the Christmas holidays, I heard my son say some Youtube bike-daredevil’s moves were “pretty sick.” But my son’s 21. Maybe he’s aged out.

So help me out here, folks. Quiz your children and your younger siblings. What’s the most up-to-date slang for “good”?

Winner gets his/her name in lights on Wing’s World, and…you never know what other prizes might come your way. Depends on how awesome your answer is.

At Least We All Speak Yoda…

The comedian George Carlin, bless his soul, used to have a wonderful spiel about freeway drivers.

Paraphrasing: “Anyone who goes faster than me–what a maniac! Anyway who goes slower–what a moron.”

I’m totally stealing that for today’s discussion about cultural literacy.

I live on an island, ok? So I am not only isolated from popular culture, I am LITERALLY INSULATED. (Insula = island in Latin. Yup.) Here on my little isle, we call trips to the mainland “going to America.” I’ve already found myself resisting such trips.

Helen and Gretchen 2012

And I’ve only lived here full-time for three years!

Along with my new home, I have a new job that has almost nothing to do with teenagers–unlike the last 20 years of teaching, where I was marinated in surrounded by them. So you can see how I’ve begun to lose just a teensy bit of my once-awesome cultural literacy.

Recently my blog guru teacher, Kristen Lamb, posted this wonderful bit on her blog:

It’s a great post, as you now know since you read it. But when I did, the whole time I was thinking, “Sharknado??? Oh man, where have I been?”

And here I thought I was all hip because I kinda/sorta know who the Kardashians are.

Anyone else out there feel like the world of what-you-have-to-know-about-to-avoid- being-a-fossil is expanding at light speed?

Then a local (meaning island) friend of mine (who’s not all that much older) rescued me from my self-pity pit. Responding to an email I’d sent, he asked, “Yeah, what does [colon + parenthesis] mean, anyway? My niece writes that all the time.”

🙂 🙂 :)!!!! Hurray–someone less literate than I am! I got to teach him all about emoticons. And no, I did not call him a moron–any more than I’d call Kristen Lamb a maniac. 🙂

I told my friend I’d try not to sound too smug when telling this story. Then I quoted Yoda’s dictum: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Then I asked him if he knew who Yoda was.

He did. Definitely not a moron! But probably still wondering, as I am, how insulated fossils like us are possibly going to keep up. Maybe I’ll assign myself an hour of YouTube a day.

So how about y’all? What examples have you run into of folks who are hopelessly moronic less hip than you are? Or your own lack of hipness? Or are you the maniac on the highway of cultural literacy? Let us hear!

(Original photo courtesy Hexmar, WANA Creative Commons)

(Original photo courtesy Hexmar, WANA Creative Commons)

Ya feel me? (Did she really just say that?)

More tissue boxes in more places (Finis)(courtesy vanherdehaage, FlikrCommons)

Okay, people. I got a sore throat last week, then the sniffles. They’re gone now, but I’m still recovering from the shame of no longer being able to brag claim that I CAN’T REMEMBER WHEN I WAS LAST SICK.

It’s true, I couldn’t–or, as they’d say back in NC where I’m from, I useta couldn’t. After a dozen years of teaching high school, handling germ-covered essays and having close conversations with people saying things like, “I’m really sick but my mom made me come to school,” I was IMMUNE TO EVERYTHING. My last six or seven years of teaching were a happy glide path. The only sick days I took were really nice, sunny ones, or else comfortable dennings-down in a Starbucks armchair with a day’s worth of grading. Hey, mental health is still health, right?

But now I can feel those little white blood cells slipping away. After nearly three years out of the classroom, I am losing my immunity. Last week was just the overture, I fear, to those timelss classics,The Twice-Yearly Cold, The Winter Flu, and everyone’s favorite, That Stomach Bug You Gave Me. Playing soon in a body very near me.

But that’s not the worst of what I’ve lost by leaving the teaching profession.

I’ve lost my fluency in Teenager.

My own kids are no help: they’re ancient 20somethings now. The high schoolers who work with me sometimes at the bakery, they try, but we all live on a teeny little island.

Who knows if they’d get laughed out of an urban high school just as much as I would if I said, “Ya feel me?”


Source: via Sarah on Pinterest

Help me, blogworld. Ask the hippest teen you know.  Then get back to me pronto. And if they laugh their heads off at you say no, ask ’em what DO teens say now when they wish to inquire about the level of someone’s understanding of one’s emotional statements if someone gets ’em. (Or, if you ARE that hipster, ask yourself.)

The best current translation of “Ya feel me?” wins a million bucks front-page status on Wing’s World, so let’s hear from y’all!