Re: Grammar: "So" as a modifier

Subject: Re: Grammar: "So" as a modifier
From: "Mark L. Levinson" <nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 08 Oct 2005 23:44:45 +0200

"So," as an intensifier, has customarily modified
adjectives and adverbs (he is so talkative, he
talked so incessantly), and in grandpa's day was
also postpositioned to modify verbs (he babbled so).

I think that prepositioning "so" to all kinds of
verbs, including negative and multi-word verbs, is
the main innovation in our mall-centered generation.
(He is so not leaving me alone.) Things get
ambiguous when "so" is used with a participle,
because the participle can sometimes be seen as an
adjective (His speech is so exhausting) and is sometimes
hard to see as anything as a verb-- particularly
when it is transitive (His speech is so exhausting
my patience).

Before a noun, the valleyish kind of "so" generally means
only that the noun is being used as an adjective. (He is
so Berkeley.) In an example like "This is so not what
I want to do," or Dick's "This is so an inconvenience,"
"so" is functioning as an adverb but I don't think it's
modifying an adjective. I think it's grammatically
parallel to saying "This is definitely what I want
to do" or "This is certainly an inconvenience," where
a strict sentence diagrammer would say that the adverb
modifies the verb but a more laid-back analyst might
consider that the adverb simply modifies the whole

Mark L. Levinson - nosnivel -at- netvision -dot- net -dot- il
Mark is editor of ARC 17: THE PROMISED TREES


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