Page 3 Profile: Susie Dent, Lexicographer
Friday 19 October 2012
So, has she made a mistake?
It is other people's errors with which Ms Dent is concerned at the moment. Countdown's resident lexicographer hasn't sat in Dictionary Corner for 20 years for nothing, and it is rare that she is outfoxed by a contestant. The Oxford and Princeton graduate has long worked with Oxford University Press, and in a blog on its website she has railed against the use of the word "so".
So what's so wrong with 'so'?
"The prefacing of every response to a question with 'So'," she said, has "knocked 'going forward' off the top of my bugbear list." Dent said she first notcied the language tic years ago on Five Live's Drive programme, when an interviewee began every answer with 'so'. "What jarred with me also irked dozens of other listeners, who texted the programme in droves to express their irritation," she wrote.
So? It's just part of the English lexicon
A tragedy, according to Dent. "Everyone's now at it: politicians, PR spokespeople, pop stars. Anyone, in fact, can be infected," she said. Ed Miliband's recent Conference speech to the Labour faithful was marred by painful sentences such as: "So, in education there really is a choice of two futures."
Dent dismisses the idea that "so" is an unconscious play for time" or a useful space-filler. "My own conclusion is that the all-prefacing 'so' is simply a habit, and one that has spread because, at some level, it sounds cool and confident.
"Microsoft employees claim it started with their computer programmers as a means of conveying logic and algorithmic certainty."
You could say it's the equivalent of Tony Blair's "Look"', and conveys trustworthiness. But in Dent's opinion it's "simply annoying".
So there must be worse crimes?
People may be more concerned by how easily "bling", "jeggings" and "mankini" wormed their odious path into the dictionary, but it's admirable that people such as Dent police these offences against the English language.
Who could fail to shudder when a shop claims it is selling "orange's" or "avocadoe's"? Who doesn't feel a secret superiority when their boss tells them to "file they're report"?
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
Skrillex and Diplo's 24-hour DJ set shut down by police after 18 hours
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'