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The below is the part of conversation in the TV series, Modern Family:

Denise: He had a boom box and a piece of cardboard in his locker. And what was your dance name?

Haley's dad: O-Zone, Yeah

Denise: I drove him to his Star Search audition.

Haley's dad: Which is totally political, by the way.

Haley: O-Zone. That is dead-ass funny. I'm so calling you that.

Haley's dad: Thank you.

What does 'I'm so calling you that' mean? I know what call means such as in the usages, call his name, make a call, etc. But I totally cannot understand the calling in the sentence.

3
  • (it's funny, the use of "totally" in the final sentence of the question :) )
    – Fattie
    Jun 12 at 16:05
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    In this case call means “use that as your name”
    – jmoreno
    Jun 12 at 23:09
  • Isn't the confusion actually caused by somewhy dumping "Denise: I drove him to his Star Search audition. Haley's dad: Which is totally political, by the way" in between "…and what was your dance name? Haley's dad: O-Zone, Yeah)…" and "Haley: O-Zone. That is dead-ass funny. I'm so calling you that."? Doesn't that make the passage as written, incomprehensible. Jun 14 at 15:57

3 Answers 3

38

The existing answers (1, 2) have addressed the use of so, which is functioning as an intensifier. However, they have not addressed the construction I'm going to call you that which also seems to be a point of confusion for the OP.

The relevant meaning here is call someone something

TRANSITIVE to use a particular name or title for someone

call someone something: Her name’s Elizabeth, but we call her Liz. [Source]

So in the dialogue you quoted, Haley has discovered that her dad's dance name was 'O-Zone'. I'm so going to call you that means 'I am definitely going to use that name [O-Zone] for you'.

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  • 1
    I can't support this answer, it's confusing. The idiom is (of course) "I'm so ..." The rest of the sentence is just normal English. You can say anything you want after "I'm so...". I'm so going to lunch, I'm so gonna kick your ass, I'm so gonna tell everyone your nickname, etc.
    – Fattie
    Jun 12 at 15:28
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    @Fattie The OP said "I know what call means such as in the usages, call his name, make a call, etc. But I totally cannot understand the calling in the sentence." So I answered the question of what call is doing in this context, which is the to call someone something meaning.
    – dbmag9
    Jun 12 at 15:56
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    I see what you mean, you propose the user was thinking of say call == telephone. (I assumed "I know what call means" meant, uh, OP knew what it meant :) )
    – Fattie
    Jun 12 at 16:06
23

In this context, "so" is an example of an intensifier, which is an adverbs that amplifies or, as the name suggests, intensifies meaning. They are also sometimes called degree words (and a few other things besides). Other examples are "really", and "totally".

The particular use you quote is a bit more informal than usual, verging on slang as @DavidSiegel suggests, but the word is still acting as an intensifier.

And that informal use became particularly popular in the late '90s in the TV series, Friends. I remember one line where one of the characters, Joey, gave another, Chandler, a gift of a garish bracelet. When Chandler put on the bracelet, Joey, delighted, exclaimed:

Oh man, you are so wearin' that bracelet.

To which Chandler, grimacing, replied:

I so am.

This has been studied in various places. Here's an example, from the University of Toronto (this PDF hosted at PennState): SO WEIRD; SO COOL;SO INNOVATIVE: THE USE OF INTENSIFIERS IN THE TELEVISION SERIES FRIENDS

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  • 2
    Is the use of 'so' in the OP's question an example of 'Valley talk'? Jun 10 at 4:46
  • It's definitely part of it. I can imagine Drew Barrymore speaking like that. She's from Culver City, in the LA area. I'm not sure if it is strictly "valley", but I don't think Valspeak is that geographically specific. But even if it is part of Valspeak, it is broader than that. At very least, as my example of Friends suggests, it was found in New York city too.
    – tkp
    Jun 10 at 4:59
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    I used to like, so hate Valley talk! Jun 10 at 5:07
  • 3
    Totally! -------
    – tkp
    Jun 10 at 10:13
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    I'm eighteen years older than Drew Barrymore and have barely ever stepped a foot in the San Fernando valley, being a denizen of the areas between the Atlantic and the Rockies. But I've been using so as an intensifier for a long part of my life, particularly in a negative way like this: Oh I'm so not doing that.
    – Lee Mosher
    Jun 10 at 19:43
10

The use of "so" in

I am so going to X

is current slang. It means "I very much intend to X". Often it is used in cses where the speaker in fact does not intend to do X, but thinks it funny or teasing to imply the opposite.

I am so going to toss you in the pool.

probably means that the speaker does not intend to do that, but thimnks the image of doing so amusing.

This is very informal usage, mostly among close friends.

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  • "This is so not true" is one of the most iconic usages. Jun 10 at 15:49
  • You're so right, love! Wait! That's not Valley. It's early 1800's London (via Blackadder III Episode 4, Sense and Senility; Mossop replying to Keanrick).
    – tkp
    Jun 10 at 21:33
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    I know you were just kidding, but Blackadder is not an accurate representation of 1800s language. (Jokes on this site can really confuse English learners, and the site is for English learners.)
    – Fattie
    Jun 12 at 15:34

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