More non-distributive WHENEVER

Alice Faber 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 Sprachagef├╝hl 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 Laboratories                            tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                               fax (203) 865-8963

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