so, four years ago i started grad school. my first semester i had a prof who would always start his sentences with: so,...
everything began with "so,...." and i thought, "how strange, why does he do that?"
well, many folks will tell you that i now do the same thing. mostly it's my non-scientist friends who have pointed it out to me. so, i was highly amused to stumble across a blog talking about verbal markers of "the scientist". the most obvious one, he notes, is starting sentences with "so,..."
why do we do this? why do i do this? who knows, really, but i like this explanation:
See, by training, scientists like to start at the very beginning with first principles, and recostruct the origninal reasoning behind things. But journalists and other civilians like to have final the conclusions right off the bat. Thus, when asked a question, I can almost hear certain scientists "fast-forwarding" very rapidly through a line of reasoning, looking for a kind of off-ramp that's near enough to the conclusion the listener is hoping for. In this sense, the "So" is an AUDIBLE "therefore" at the end of an INAUDIBLE explanation that the scientist thinks through but isn't allowed enough time to share.
of course, that's probably only part of the reason. all subcultures develop verbal tics (akin to "jargon"), and this is probably just another one (which, maybe, sprang out of the above reasoning and then became habit).