Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Quaint, so quiet

I was reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary to my kid when I came across the following sentence.
“Matt, who had seen guests come and go for many years, knew there were two kinds—those who thought the hotel was a dreadful old barn of a place and those who thought it charming and quaint, so quiet and restful.”

I'm assuming here that so is not used in its sense as an intensifier. This threw me for a bit of a loop because I didn't think that so could be used to connect anything below the level of a clause. In fact, that was one of the properties that I thought distinguished coordinators from conjunctive adverbs, the topic with which this blog started over a year ago.

It strikes me as a little odd, but the more I look at it, the less objectionable it seems. What do you think?


alienvoord said...

I think it is an intensifier here. "It was so quiet and restful." It sounds OK to me, anyway.

Michael Stout said...

I'd love to know why you are assuming that so is not used as an intensifier here. Seems to me that it is. It doesn't make any sense to me otherwise because so in its other sense would imply a cause and effect relationship between quaintness and quietness and restfulness. I don't see it.

Brett said...

OK, maybe it's an intensifier. Anyone else?

Jan said...

We're big Beverly Cleary fans, and if I had read this to my daughter (when we were both somewhat younger!) I would have interpreted that line as an indirect quote -- "SO quiet and restful!" I don't think she could be intending it to mean "therefore" or "thus," though the mild punctuation does allow that, I suppose, if you try hard.

The Ridger, FCD said...

I would have read it as an intensifier, but I can see it the other way. For me, though, "so" used that way (as a conjunction) is almost always coupled with "and".

This is probably to avoid confusing it with the intensifier.

It was charming and quaint and, so, quiet and restful.

Here's something I wrote many years ago, so I know I've been usint "and, so" for a while.

Foreign and northern and fair as the dawn,
Bright as a flame, and, so, hard to hold,
Like sunlight, like fire, illusionist's gold:
Why am I breathing yet when thou art gone?

I suppose "hard to hold" is a clause, though...