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So to speak

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 13, 2008 at 03:33

In Reply to: So to speak posted by ESC on June 12, 2008 at 21:38:

: : Hi there, could you tell me what's the meaning of SO TO SPEAK?. I'm Venezuelan and I want to use this expression but I'm not sure if this is used in formal way.

: We had a discussion about this several years ago. Go to
: But I don't think we came up with a good explanation.

I like your explanation in the Archive, ESC, but I'd like to speak up for the phrase "so to speak." I have used it fairly often, in the way already suggested. That is, the words used may not be formal English literally taken, but are more likely to contain some metaphor or figure of speech, or possibly slang or colloquial English.

As for Oliver Strunk, co-author of a book still in print and required reading in some English courses: he was a brilliant man, especially admired in the town where I live; but the rule that you quote is expressed in far too absolute terms. Although he is correct, generally speaking, still, circumstances alter cases, and one should always carefully weigh alternatives, in punctuation as in other things, if our writing is to be set down in print.