By: Nancy Gisch, RMR CRR, CLR
Words. They are the continual focus of the court reporter, always striving to make an exemplary record of spoken communication. We go to great lengths, expending what can be a disproportionate amount of time and energy, in an effort to track down the precise spelling of a particular term that may be foreign to our vocabulary. And during that research we bump into all sorts of interesting tidbits about words, whether polysyllabic or monosyllabic.
We are fortunate to have a daily view of words that come in and out of vogue. A short time ago the use of “so” as a discourse marker was on the rise, particularly in expert testimony. When asked to explain the relevance of an item, an expert witness would often begin the description by saying, for example, “So, what you will notice when viewing the …” It seems to suggest that an insightful revelation is about to be disclosed. And soon that little word was much more prevalent at the beginning of sentences in casual, everyday conversations.
Wondering if this was truly a new trend, I turned to the Internet and learned that Chaucer, born in 1343, had used “so” to begin a verse. There is also the suggestion that more recently the use of “so” as a discourse marker became widely used by computer programmers because of the sense of logic it implies, much like a mathematical if-then equation. Huh. Interesting.
And did you know that “huh” is now considered to be a universal word? It is listed with four definitions. According to linguists in the Netherlands, at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, “huh” is used in a similar fashion throughout five continents.
Oh, the tangential journeys that words can provide.