[Ads-l] when = 'if'

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 29 18:16:47 UTC 2015


On Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 1:55 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>
> OED when, def. 8a ends by saying "sometimes nearly = 'if.'"
>
> Cites go back to ca1175.
>
> There is, however what I take to be a recent usage that goes further and
>  essentially equals "if."
>
> Current TV commercial:
>
> "When you're a cat, you ignore people. It's what you do."
>
> I.e., you ignore people "if" you're a cat. "When" implies there are times
> when you're not.
>
> Which is never, if you're a cat.

I think you might have misheard that, Jon. Sounds like "if" to me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk_6_VhwijA

It's one of a series of Geico commercials involving versions of the
line, "If you're X, you Y. It's what you do."

--bgz

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list