[Ads-l] "still" a question?

Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 10 02:16:40 UTC 2015


Still is correct. Believe is wrong. Understand makes sense.

"You still don't understand that call, right?"
On Feb 9, 2015 8:06 PM, "Laurence Horn" <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      "still" a question?
>
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>
> Some of you may recall Seattle coach Pete Carroll's ill-fated decision =
> at the end of last week's Super Bowl by Seattle coach Pete Carroll to =
> try a pass from the 1 yard line. The decision backfired and has been =
> almost universally second-guessed ever since.  On ESPN's weekly Sports =
> Reporters panel show yesterday, moderator Jay Harris began the =
> discussion of Carroll's play call with this question:
>
> "Maybe THE most controversial call in the history of America's biggest =
> sporting event=85Can you still believe it?
>
> He later uses the same syntax in asking Boston-based journalist Bob Ryan =
> "Bob, can you still believe that call?"=20
>
> For me, these questions are impossible as given, even though they =
> clearly expect (and in Ryan's case received) the response "I still can't =
> believe it."  In other words, it's as if Harris is asking "You still =
> can't believe that call, right?"=20
>
> Am I just being old and crotchety?  Is there a "dialect difference" on =
> the use of "still" in this sort of question?  Notice that it's perfectly =
> natural to ask "Can you still ride the subway for $2.50?" or "Do bears =
> still shit in the woods?", where there's a presupposition that the =
> mentioned practice or state of affairs used to hold in the past.  The =
> only question is whether "still" questions are possible when the =
> opposite assumption holds, i.e. here that you couldn't believe the call =
> after it happened, and I'm asking whether that's still true.
>
> LH=
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


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