Is "now, ..." the new "well, ..."?

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Mon Aug 19 20:28:07 UTC 2013

Nice subject line!

This use has always made me curious. Wiktionary describes it as: Used to introduce a point, a remonstration or a rebuke.

The OED says "with temporal sense weakened or lost":
In sentences expressing a command or request, or in a question, giving any of various tones (exclaiming, reproving, soothing, etc.). 

Introducing an important or noteworthy point in an argument or proof, or in a series of statements. 

Used at the beginning of a clause, or question, or elliptically in a question, with emphatic or rhetorical force.

If this is a growing trend, it could be a result of hype that news programs often try to create (i.e., they are using "now" to emphasize the importance of their story). If Al-Jezeera's promise to deliver real news pans out starting tomorrow, they might then use this word less often.

As an aside, the similarity of this use to the Japanese nao is a fun curiosity. 

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

Learn Ainu!

On Aug 19, 2013, at 12:44 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:

> It used to be that many, many reporters on television news programs
> began their pronouncements with "Well, ...".  Now they seem to be
> beginning with "Now, ...".  Even when it isn't now, but a few hours
> ago, or yesterday, or whenever.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list