So soon forsaken: What do Mark Zuckerberg and William Shakespeare have in common?

Shakespeare got all the way to Sonnet 134 before he tried it: “So, now I have confess’d that he is thine, And I myself am mortgag’d to thy will.”

In the hands of the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg the construction is - admittedly - less elegant. “So, what we want to do is build a pipeline of experiences for people to have,” he said in a recent New York Times interview outlining his views on creating new apps

So, what do the greatest writer in the history of the English language and the founder of the world’s most popular social media platform have in common with the rest of us? The answer, it seems, is using the word “so” at the beginning of a sentence.

According to a growing body of business opinion the fashion for deploying the traditional two-letter conjunction to preface a statement could be actively damaging to career prospects as well as alienating colleagues who subconsciously believe they are being spoken down to when they hear it

A recent blog posting on the influential Business Insider website identified Zuckerberg using “so” as an opening gambit on four occasions in the first answer in his Times interview alone.

Writing in Fast Company, Thriveplan founder Hunter Thurman has warned against its use, noting three reasons to avoid it. He claims it insults an audience’s intelligence, undermines credibility and demonstrates the speaker is not comfortable with what they are saying.

“Rather than just plainly answering their question, you’re relying on the crutch of a practiced blurb. Usually, whatever follows 'so’ is a carefully crafted sentence, evolved over many iterations and audience reactions,” he said.

Like the Facebook founder, Shakespeare wasn't afraid to start a sentence with 'so' (Getty) Like the Facebook founder, Shakespeare wasn't afraid to start a sentence with 'so' (Getty) The trend was first identified back in 1999 as the discourse marker of choice among bubble Silicon Valley programmers. Linguistics scholar Galina Bolden of Rutgers University is a global authority on the word and has made around a hundred hours of field recordings of everyday conversations between family and friends.

She has seen an increase in the use of “so” used to preface a question between the 1970s and the 2000s in research conducted in the UK and the United States. The evidence suggests that the trend may be a US import to Britain, she said.

But it serves a number of useful functions. “In my research, I show that ‘so’ does relational or interpersonal work, conveying the speaker's interest in and concern for the person they are talking to,” Professor Bolden told The Independent.

“By using "so" before these sorts of questions, the speaker is saying something along the lines ‘I'm interested in your life', ‘I've been wondering how you are’, or ‘I've been meaning to ask you how this particular thing in your life has been going',” she said.

"`So’ has been getting some bad press recently, as a sort of a parasite word, which might eventually lead to a decrease in its usage, but it's hard to say,” she said.

“In fact, I think 'so’ is an extremely useful conversational resource for conveying things without saying them explicitly, for claiming relationships and connections without articulating them, and for building personal relationships tacitly, without having that dreaded conversation about ‘the relationship’ - doing all of this underneath the interactional surface,” she added.

Speech coach Harry Key, author of Speak for Yourself: Talk to Impress, Influence and Make an Impact, said: “The question to ask is whether it is working for you. The thing to focus on is flexibility. If you can’t not say it – if it is coming out of your mouth like `ums’ and `ahs’ and `you knows’ - then it is becoming a hindrance rather than a help and you need to change.”

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little