Pet peeve: the phrase "so yeah"

2 May

One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was from my aunt (a.k.a commenter A.B.), an absolute gem of a writer who would be famous if she wanted to be. Her advice was simple: don’t write how you speak. Writing and talking are wholly different forms of communication and should be treated that way. Writing grants the storyteller the ability to condense, to restructure, and ultimately to tell the story in an artful manner. All hail the power of editing.

In that spirit, I’d like to submit a request to my fellow writers, many of whom are far more talented than me: stop starting your sentences with “so, yeah.”

“So, yeah…” is an inexplicably common phrase, typically used as a transition when a writer is either too untalented or too lazy to think up a natural segue to repeat or make a point. “So, yeah. I enjoyed the concert.” You just fucking said that. No need to repeat. “So, yeah” is 100% useless, 100% of the time. Its existence makes me angry. It is a goddamn affront to the written word, and it needs to stop now.

Now, obviously I understand the benefit of writing in a conversational tone. This blog is Exhibit A. But there is a difference between employing an informal tone and essentially typing out a transcript. Using “so, yeah” falls into the far, far end of the latter spectrum. You don’t pepper your text with “like” every four words, so why on earth has this pointless, annoying “so, yeah” phrase become so ubiquitous in today’s writing? The backspace button is your friend, friends.

And if that’s not enough, keep in mind “so yeah” is totally overused these days, making you unoriginal in addition to lazy. Not exactly a winning combo. Keep this in mind: if that phrase is beneath me, it is most certainly beneath you.

Starting today, I am begging you to do a quick “so yeah hunt” and rid your prose of the overused hackery before publishing. Your writing, and my sanity, will be better for it.

And just think how happy you’ll make my aunt.


3 Responses to “Pet peeve: the phrase "so yeah"”

  1. RandBall's Stu May 3, 2010 at 7:12 am #

    I’m all, like, what the hell.

  2. Tim Morgan May 3, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    So, yeah like totally know what you are saying, lol. Your auntie sounds hot, can I get her digits?

  3. A.B. May 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    This does make me happy!

    Thank you, B. I consider it a public service that you’ve asked for a cease and desist on “So, yeah.” These words seem to be everywhere lately and are just… I don’t know. Lame. Yep, that’s just what they are. The phrase is tired and meaningless, and you did the right thing in writing about it. I had sort of given up by taking the passive-aggressive route and simply added it to my growing list of general annoyances:

    – The phrase, “Yeah, no.” Pick one.
    – The sudden overuse and distortion of the word “conversation.” Phrases like these are currently huge in marketing circles: “Start a conversation,” “Join a conversation,” “Have a conversation.” I recently received an email from a woman whose company wants “to help brands have more meaningful conversations.” Is Pepsi is going to sit down with Tampax and discuss the Middle East crisis? Then what the hell are you talking about?
    – Health insurance. Why is it so expensive? I don’t even understand how it works.
    – “Uptick.” Why is everyone saying this now? What happened to “increase?” Where is “rise?” Over the past several months it seems that anything that could be described as being markedly larger than it was is now on a “sharp uptick.”
    – Flip-flops. Enough already. Dammit kids, nobody wants to see your toes.

    Anyway, B. Thank you. I appreciate your crusade to Just Say No to So, Yeah. You are doing the right thing. Also, I feel kind of famous just by you mentioning me.

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