More non-distributive WHENEVER
faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Sun Mar 16 04:38:37 UTC 2008
Laurence Horn wrote:
> At 11:55 PM -0400 3/15/08, Alice Faber wrote:
>> ESPN just showed a sound-bite from a University of North Carolina
>> basketball player, Tyler Hansborough, describing his thought process
>> behind his last second game-winning shot in UNC's victory over Virginia
>> Tech: "Whenever I caught [the ball], I knew I was going to shoot it."
>> According to his ESPN player profile, he's from Poplar Bluff, MO.
>> By a strange coincidence, the piece of paper I grabbed to scribble this
>> example down on already had some similar instances of "whenever", from a
>> more unlikely speaker.
>> Last weekend, XM radio Home Ice (their hockey channel) had a lengthy
>> interview with Ted Lindsay, an icon of Detroit hockey, originally from
>> the Ottawa Valley. The sentence that caught my ear was: "I just wanted
>> to be in the courtroom whenever Eagleson pleaded guilty." I subsequently
>> noted "Something was unfair whenever Saskin took over." However, when
>> the temporal clause was sentence initial, he had "when": "When Eagleson
>> pleaded guilty..."
> Unlike Tyler H.'s, which is an echt regional instance of episodic
> "whenever", Lindsay's *could* be a standard if elliptical use. The
> sense is "I didn't know when Eagleson would plead out, but I wanted
> to be in the courtroom whenever that happened." I can get the latter,
> although I'm far from the relevant isogloss for the former ("Whenever
> [= When, As soon as] I caught the ball, I knew...") or the other
> instances we've discussed ("Whenever I was a kid", "Whenever I
> swatted that fly", or the one contributed by pitcher Clay Buchholz
> after his no-hitter for the Red Sox last year, "Yeah, whenever he
> made that play I knew I had a shot [at the no-hitter].")
Well, XM might play the interview again (they do that a lot), so I can
check to be sure. But I believe the larger context made it clear that he
was describing an event that, finally, he knew exactly when [it] would
happen. With regard to the other deposed Players Association head, Ted
Saskin, he took over exactly once (and was deposed exactly once). My
best Sprachagefühl here is that all of the episodic "whenever" sentences
sound like something I wouldn't say, but now recognize and understand.
Lindsay's utterances, as transcribed, fit in that class.
Alice Faber faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA fax (203) 865-8963
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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