possible antedate of indiscriminative "whatever"?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jul 22 14:12:44 UTC 2006

>Oral memory is elusive--one should hear the scene (wait for the next
>repeat on Turner Classic Movies!).  But I don't remember a stress on
>the second syllable,

Stress was on first syllable, although I'll take it out from the
library again to confirm it (the scene was at approx. 1:22 on the
DVD counter).

>  and do remember receiving the "recent voguish"
>sense.  I think I remember that the speaker sounds resigned, and the
>discussion moves on to another aspect of the crime.

Yes, he's waving off the police detective, and the sense is one of
ungracious concession, which I take to be the heart of the current
trendy use.  ("Even if you're right, it's irrelevant because...")


>At 7/22/2006 08:41 AM, you wrote:
>>On Sat, 22 Jul 2006, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
>>>It looks pretty solid to me. I'm trying to find a reason to
>>>dismiss it, but can't.
>>Aren't there two uses of intensive "whatever"?  One is a recent voguish
>>use indicating extreme indifference: "if that's what you think, fine, it's
>>not important enough to me to argue about it, end of discussion, let's
>>move on to something else."  The other is a more traditional usage,
>>unrecorded by OED, indicating anger and pronounced with a strong emphasis
>>on the second syllable: "the point you are making is irrelevant to the
>>real issue, which I will now explain to you."  This traditional use is
>>probably elliptical for some saying like "whatever you say is besides the
>>point."  I think Larry's example illustrates the second sense.  Am I
>>misanalyzing this?
>>Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
>>Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
>>   Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
>>Yale Law School                             forthcoming
>>e-mail: fred.shapiro at yale.edu               http://quotationdictionary.com
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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