I’ve got used to politicians following every spoken sentence with “Now…” to forestall interruptions from interviewers and opponents. But a new mannerism has crept into common usage. People of all stripes who are asked questions are beginning their answers with “So…”. How did this start, and what do they mean?
According to the all my dictionaries the word ‘so’ may be an adverb, a conjunction or a pronoun and has several meanings, none of which is compatible with this new usage.
I wouldn’t completely disallow placing ‘so’ at the beginning of a sentence. One might reasonably say, “So cold was the wind that I wore two scarves and a borrowed pair of fur-lined boots” or “So humbly did the young man beg her forgiveness that Amelia’s heart was quite melted.” But what I am hearing when I snick on my radio and hear a politician quizzed does not conform to such a template.
So [= for that reason] I am stroppy. I am so stroppy.