I am interested in the word, “so” in the following sentence in Jeffery Archer’s novel, “The Prodigal Daughter.”

Florentina Kane who is the chairman of an international hotel empire she succeeded from her father, and stood as a candidate for the Congresswoman for Illinoi State in late 1960s is asked question by a journalist at the press conference:

“Do you consider it a disadvantage to be a woman when seeking public office?”

( She answered:)

“Perhaps to a limited or ill-informed person I would have so answer yes, but not with any intelligent voter who puts the issues before outdated predudices. Which of you if involved in a traffic accident on the way home today would think twice if the first doctor on the scene turned out to be a woman?- The Prodigal Daughter(Published by St. Martin's Press) P.293.

Naturally I read the bold line as “I would have to answer yes,” as most of you do, but then noticed that it is clearly and distinctly written as “soin italic to emphasize this specific word.

What does “so” mean in the above sentence? How does “so” here function grammatically?

Logically and empirically, it's hard to believe such a reputed author as Lord Jeffery Archer deiberately put "so" in Italic to show off his error.

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    I am looking at a copy of the book where the sentence says 'I would have to answer yes'. Can you check it's not a typo?
    – Peter
    Jul 15, 2014 at 7:32
  • My search reveals that the word is to, not so, making the sentence a very understandable "I would have to answer yes". Perhaps you could see if this is a typo? Jul 15, 2014 at 7:32
  • predudices is also misspelled
    – mplungjan
    Jul 15, 2014 at 7:44
  • @Peter. I reread and checked the line in question on the book at my hand which I bought through Amazon several times by using a magnifying glass. Nevertheless, it was 'flawlessly" spelt as "I would have so answer yes," "so" in Italic, and remains to be 'so.' I wish I can send you a photocopy of the page of the book. Jul 15, 2014 at 11:34
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is based on a typo. Jul 15, 2014 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


It's a misprint in your edition, Oishi-san. That word should be to, and it's an ordinary infinitive. (I'd link to a PDF, but it's a copyright work which the PDF infringes.)

Perhaps to a limited or ill-informed person I would have to answer yes, but not with any intelligent voter who puts the issues before outdated prejudices

I suspect that it's gone through two misprintings: first from to to so, and then emphasised as well. So can be used as an emphatic: I would have to so answer yes, and I guess that the printer italicised it for emphasis to give it this meaning. Unfortunately in doing so he only emphasised the original error.

Interestingly, even in the PDF there is no full-stop after prejudices. Perhaps Lord Archer needs a better proof-reader.

  • Maybe better a comment? Jul 15, 2014 at 7:34
  • Interestingly enough, the "yes" is spelled "yts" in the PDF available on the net. Seems someone scanned and OCRed it
    – mplungjan
    Jul 15, 2014 at 7:46
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    @Andrew Leach. I read it as "I would have to answer yes,” as I wrote in my question, but the word, "so" is shown in Italic. Hence, I thought there should be a special reason for the author to have used "so." Though somebody down-voted my question perhaps for the reason of "too obvious" typo, non-native English speakers like me can not judge and declair it's a typo with confidence that the down-voter has. And in Japan, we would require 100 years to discover a typo in the book written by reputed authors and published by reputed publishers. Typo in public literatures is a shame. We never accept Jul 15, 2014 at 9:35
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    Until it was determined to be a typo, I thought it was an affected voice of an emphatic young person saying, "I would have so answer(ed) yes.", which is a viable possibility to me who is not familiar with the background of the character speaking the line. I think the downvote is patently unfair in this case. Jul 15, 2014 at 14:09
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    @YoichiOishi - I don't know who your downvoter was, but everybody has them. When something makes no sense whatsoever (as typos are wont to do), you can google it by searching a half-dozen words in quotes (I googled "answer yes, but not with any intelligent voter") which appear before or after the mystery word. That is how I found it, and probably a couple of other users did so as well. Cultures are indeed different, but one thing remains constant: where humans are involved, mistakes will be made. Jul 15, 2014 at 14:10

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