More on "what's" (was: Re: excrescent 's)

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Sat Jun 9 17:09:51 UTC 2012

On Jun 9, 2012, at 9:02 AM, Larry Horn wrote:

> Speaking of "what's":
> This is more a more subtle shift than the ones Arnold writes about, but I've been noticing an odd (to me!) use of "what's" in edited prose.  For me, the clitic in "what's" is unremarkable in two different contexts, one of course with the elided copula ("What's he/she/it doing now?") and one with the elided perfect auxiliary ("What's he/she done now?").  But one of Apple's ads for iPhone4 and Siri reads
> "What's my day look like?"
> (I've seen this on the back of New Yorkers and I think on TV commercials as well, although I'm not sure of that.)
> For me, "What's your day look like?" or maybe "What's he do for a living?" are maybe possible allegro speech utterances but it seems one step farther away from written edited English than the "What has" or "What is" values of "What's".

the auxiliary verb DO (of "do-support") isn't on the usual lists of reducible auxiliaries, but it should be; both "does" and "did" can reduce in many contexts, even in written (though informal) texts.  from my files for "did" in "how'd you do":

How'd You Do In School Today?
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 30, 2007

Hey, Big Spender! How'd You Do?
By Sharyl Attkisson
CBS News 11/4/10

Trending: Jeepers creepers, how'd you do those peepers? [on eye makeup]
By Rebecca Armstrong
The Independent (U.K.) 2/17/12

truly huge number of these, but also a lot for "how's he do", with reduced "does".  and then there's:

"What's Love Got To Do With It" is the second single (after "Let's Stay Together") released from Tina Turner's fifth solo album Private Dancer.'s_Love_Got_to_Do_with_It_(song)


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