Two little words, sit by my doorstep…

I’ve grown to loath and avoid two small words in the last few months, largely because of their hidden purpose. They’ve never offended me before, in fact both are remarkable by their insignificance, but now they can be heard daily, hourly, on television and radio interviews and have a far greater meaning than they deserve.

This morning, for example, on the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) the CEO of John Lewis used one of them FOUR times in the space of a 3 minute interview.

‘Look’ he said, as an opener to every fudged answer he gave. It’s shorthand for ‘Look, you stupid idiot, can’t you see that what I’m about to say brooks no argument? It’s the definitive statement on the matter, so get back in your interviewer’s box.’

Look Here

I’m afraid it’s almost the same with ‘so’. The other day I read a tweet which commended a professor of some ology or other for lasting five minutes before uttering this currently abused word. It’s more polite than it’s cousin ‘look’ but has become a euphemism for declaring that what follows is the cut and dried, unarguable, conclusive explanation of the subject in hand. Its hidden purpose is to prevent the interviewer, the questioner, from delving any further.

So look, next time you hear either of those words I suggest you’ve been listening to someone who thinks you’re stupid and can’t draw conclusions of your own.


Douglas Watkinson is an English novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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