“So, are you going to that pardy?”

John Rentoul

JohnHumphrys460 300x180 So, are you going to that pardy?I was on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday, because its listeners have been writing in to complain about interviewees who start their answers with “So”. John Humphrys (right) was tenaciously wondering where this virus came from. Is it from Silicon Valley (and more speculation here)? Is it an academic thing? I suggested that it might be a style popularised by internet blogs and forums, but I really have no idea.

Whatever its origin, starting with “So” was one of the first prohibitions on the Banned List, and in the book I explain – though this is about its use in print rather than broadcast:

The Banned List actually started as an email that I wrote around 2000, now lost, with some rules for leading articles in The Independent. They should never begin with ‘So’, I said. Since then I have realised that this is only the first of a rising three-part scale. Worse is to start an article with ‘And so’. Worst of all is ‘And so it begins.’ Time can be saved by not reading on if an article starts with any of those.

My turn on Today demonstrated one of the hazards of trying to be helpful. Two correspondents kindly pointed out that, in expounding on the redundancy of one sentence-opener, I used “I mean” three times.

Too kind of them to point it out.

I much preferred this email from a listener who said thank you for identifying the “so-ing that we’ve been subjected to over the last few years”:

There seems to have been a deluge of nasty management phrases that are blighting mainstream conversations in recent years.

More tricky is a pronunciation trend that seems to be penetrating the mainstream: the soft T. It seems to have similar origins in boardrooms of large companies. It is the softening of the letter T when in the middle of a word. “Are you going to that pardy?” “You need to change the seddings on your Modorola phone.” “It’s thirdy or fordy per cent.” “The problems in Idaly.”

Any more examples of irritating tics or usages, let me know.

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  • Citizen Sane

    In the words of Alan Partridge – anyone who pronounces a ‘T’ as a ‘D’ is a dwad and a dosser.

  • John Rentoul

    No, but it ought to be. It will be added to the Supplement. Thanks. 

  • TarquinBroxted

    Be careful what you wish for. Banning is a sign of fear (by Lebedev and the vested interests). Mr Rentoul is good on Bliar, good on Labour 1997-2010 but never addressed the inception of a de facto police state under Tony & Co.

  • porkfright

    They are unlikely to ban me. I am far too erudite and far too amusing. Let’s not go there.

  • TarquinBroxted

    Dear Pork, the new comments system may see the demise of any opposition here, and perhaps that is the reason behind it? Blackhurst & King will not reply to (polite) enquiries. Time to jump ship to the Grauniad? Well, it HAS been 3 years since Broxted/Rehill appeared.

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