When and where did the present tendency begin for interviewees on the radio to preface many answers to questions with the word 'So'?


This will be a difficult question to answer unless someone has access to radio transcripts going back a century.

However, as a rough indication (with thanks to @FumbleFingers), a Google Ngram suggests the use of "So can I ask [some question]" in printed documents suddenly took off in the 1980s:

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  • ...I think the specific sequence So can I ask (some question) limits us much more tightly to OP's specific context. And you can see that sequence suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the 1980s. – FumbleFingers Aug 11 '16 at 12:35
  • As to "better not to answer" - I don't have a strong opinion, really. The question certainly interests me. I thought I might have asked about it here myself some years ago, but if that's true I can't find it. I found a few others though. It would be good if all except one were to be closed as duplicates, but it's not easy to arrange for the surviving question to contain all the best answers. – FumbleFingers Aug 11 '16 at 12:39
  • (By all means edit your answer to include my chart instead of yours if you want. I'm not sure if I'll upvote, but I'd certainly cancel my downvote if you did that and changed your text to reflect what's thereby implied.) – FumbleFingers Aug 11 '16 at 12:41
  • You will go far, my son! :) Now I suppose both of us should go and scrutinise all the answers to all the previous questions on this issue, and decide which if any to vote on. No offence, but I will be disappointed if yours is the most thorough treatment around - but if it was (including if you figure out how to include all the best bits from all other answers, and modify yours to become the best), there would be nothing wrong with you copying your text in its entirety and posting it again on the "best" question. – FumbleFingers Aug 11 '16 at 13:02

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