Sunday, 24 February 2013
A tweet from Richard Dawkins (English ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author - Wikipedia) this morning asked the question :
"So why do so many Americans begin a story with "So" ? Is it the 140 chars version of "Once upon a time" ? "
(for the uninitiated in the regulations of Twitter "chars" refers to the 140 characters or less that a tweet is made up of)
My first reaction to this question was - I do this all the time, especially on blogs. If this is an americanism I think I should stop !
Other comments suggest that it is a way of framing - the time, situation, place without having to go into detail of the full context at that point in the story. "Anyway" is used in much the same way, or in some circumstances "well".
Of course it's neither an American 'thing' nor an English one. Every language and culture appears to have a version. Bueno in Spanish, perhaps d'accord in French, W'allah in Arabic (I'll check on that last one) It's also a way of beginning to speak or tell a tale without having done much thinking before. A kind of short stop gap while the mind deciphers and tames wild thoughts and turns them into logical, coherent and understandable sentences.
To the readers of this blog, and to my family and friends too, it goes without saying that I am one of the people who need this device, especially in my speaking. I try to tell myself that the reason that my words are coming out of my mouth in an unintellible order is because there are so many amazing thoughts that I need to get out quickly before I forget them. In reality it's more a case of Put Brain in Gear Before Opening Mouth. Come on, I know I'm not unique in that.
Thinking about this, I have now established that my extensive use of ellipsis recently (... ...) and dashes (-) within a sentence is more than likely, probably - well maybe, at least - is serving the same purpose for me. What a wonderful thing language is. It can make you appear very intelligent, or on the other hand, less than that.
So, anyway ... ...
What d'you think ?