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Arts & Life

A little word can annoy lots of people

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Listeners have pointed out that more people are using the word "so" in speech.

Michigan Radio's Rina Miller talks with Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, who specializes in linguistics.

Curzan says, "These little words are called discourse markers. They're the words that help us organize conversations. Words like so, well, and you know, I mean."

She gives us a few examples of how we can use "so" in speech. "The word so can do a few different things. One thing it's done for quite awhile is to signal that we are starting a story....It can also be a way to resume a topic or a story....What seems to be happening now is that speakers are often starting with it even though it's not exactly resumptive."

"Every time we over use something whether it's so or well or like, people start to notice it, and that can get annoying for people," says Curzan.

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