The hoodie has been -- even if it was not called so -- it's been an icon throughout history for good and for bad reasons. The earliest ones that we can trace are from ancient Greece and ancient Rome.
(from Ted.com The 3,000-year history of the hoodie)

I did not quite understand the meaning of the sentence... and why did the "so" was at the end of the sentence?

  • 1
    Note that this is live audio, where the speaker does not use a grammatically correct sentence. She repeats it's been which makes the sentence harder to understand. Just leave it out for better understanding. – Jan Doggen Sep 22 at 17:27

The relevant definition is #7 in Oxford Dictionaries...

so - In the same way; correspondingly.

Thus we can resequence and rephrase OP's example into something like...

Although "the hoodie" wasn't recognised [by that name OR1 as iconic] in the past, the thing itself has always been iconic.

(Where original even if = although = despite the fact that.)

1 Note that syntactically, either interpretation (name or iconic status) is perfectly valid. It's really a matter of opinion which reading you take from it (or indeed, which reading the writer intended).


Note that OP's cited usage is somewhat "dated, formal", and it does rather conflict with the still-common idiomatic usage so-called. Suppose you've suffered a nasty injury while out hiking alone in a remote area, but you've manage to limp in to a tiny hamlet where you meet a man carrying a doctor's medical bag.

You:
I need medical attention! Are you a doctor?
Him:
I am called so, yes.
or
I am so called, yes.

Both the above replies carry the strong implication that the local people think of him as a doctor, even though strictly speaking he doesn't have the relevant formal qualifications. So you can confidently ask him to look at your injured foot.

But - suppose the guy didn't have a medical bag, and the conversation had gone more like...

You:
I need medical attention! Can you help?
Him:
There's a so-called doctor living in that house over there.

In that case you might be better advised to keep going and look for someone else to help, because the strong implication is the person living in that house calls himself a doctor, but he is in fact an incompetent charlatan.

  • 2
    I doubt that "called so" refers to the name "hoodie", since you would hardly expect that name in other languages, and there's nothing particularly iconic about the word itself (it reeks of modern slang). I agree with @JamesK that it refers to calling it iconic. – Barmar Sep 22 at 18:12
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    @Barmar I'm sure there are still other words for "hoodie" that people use in other languages. Even in English it might still be called a hooded sweatshirt. The word hoodie has been around such a short time that many people alive today can remember when it wasn't a word. Yes, the word is modern slang; I think that was the speaker's point. – David K Sep 23 at 3:50
  • @Barmar: Your point is valid, in that syntactically it's a perfectly valid alternative, so I've edited to reflect the potential "ambiguity". But that's really a matter of interpretation / personal opinion in this one specific semantic context, not directly relevant to the usage itself. – FumbleFingers Sep 23 at 14:06
  • @DavidK Saying "even if" suggests that the writer is contradicting an expectation. But there's no reason that the name would be relevant to its iconicity. OTOH, the fact that people didn't always call it iconic might lead the reader to believe that it wasn't iconic, and that's what the writer is trying to point out. – Barmar Sep 23 at 19:25
  • For what it's worth, I listened to the actual talk and noticed the transcript does not match the words actually spoken, nor does it reflect the pauses between words. I think a more faithful (though even less grammatical) transcription would be, "The hoodie has been -- even if it was not called so but it's been an icon ... ." I don't know whether this makes the meaning clearer or murkier. Of course, under either interpretation, what the hoodie was called clearly has nothing to do with its iconic status. Perhaps that was the point. – David K Sep 24 at 2:38

This is a parenthetical intrusion, a little extra phrase that extends or clarifies the main sentence. It is set off by punctuation. Here dashes have been used, but commas or round brackets are also common.

The main sentence is "The hoodie has been an icon throughout history..."

The speaker adds an extra point. They could have put this extra point at the end of the main sentence

... icon throughout history for good and bad reasons. It has not always been called a hoodie. The earliest...

or at the beginning:

The hoodie has not always been called a hoodie, but it has been an icon throughout history.

But the intrusion is very common, especially in spoken language. The extra idea is spoken as the speaker thinks of it.

The word "so" is a peculiar little word. Here refers to the phrase "an icon". It is an adverb, which modifies the verb "called" to mean "called an icon".

The speaker, after the intrusion, repeats "has been" (but merged into "its been...") again this repetition is characteristic of speech. It would have been edited out of an "essay".

  • 1
    Interesting. I thought the parenthetical intrusion was to say that the hoodie has not always been called "hoodie." – David K Sep 23 at 2:39
  • 2
    I think you're right – James K Sep 23 at 6:01

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