What a So-and-So.

I once heard digital information compared to a greasy pig. You can hold on to it for so long before it slips from your grasp. Despite this, I’m unable to find a recording of the BBC Breakfast news item about the use of the word, “so,” at the beginning of sentences. I can only find their Twitter update from Friday:

Nonetheless, I’ve found a great example from last year, when the boss of BlackBerry failed to explain adequately how the company lost direction. Stephen Bates uses the conjunction at least four times at the beginning of answers, and several more throughout.

I think we all know people with verbal tics. I probably have one I’m not aware of. I once had a conversation with someone who kept saying, “He/She turned around and said…” By the end of the conversation, I imagined the other party with a nail in one foot, frantically turning round and around with the other.

On the page, a fictional character with a pet phrase can be a useful device in dialogue. If they always start with, “Well, the thing is, you see,” or call everyone, “love,” it eliminates the need for an identifier when multiple people are speaking. Even a gesture can be effective. I have a novel where a character shrugs when he doesn’t know an answer, and that’s a lot of the time.

But, well, the thing is, you see: balance is key. It’s enough to, like, give a flavour of the character’s go-to words. Including it in every, like, sentence or clause will only, like, annoy the reader.