[Ads-l] when = 'if'

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 29 19:25:29 UTC 2015


> On Sep 29, 2015, at 3:04 PM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET> wrote:
> 
> All of these examples strike me as the same kind of individual-level predicate humorously interpreted as a stage-level predicate, also exemplified in the phrase "driving while black."
> 
> Neal

Individual-level yes, but again they don't strike me as necessarily humorous, and a look at the contexts of the web examples, it seems clear that they're not intended jocularly (as opposed to the hypothetical "when you're a cat" case).  But I'll grant that maybe this is a difference across speakers.  I can't override the temporal component of "while" in the above type of example (even though there's the non-temporal adversative sense of "while" in other contexts) but in a sentence beginning with "When you're black...", e.g.

"When you're black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people."
--Charles Barkley
"When you're Black you have to face the harsh reality that you or a loved one could become the next hashtag on Twitter."
"But when you're Black, you have to face some kind of nonsense, solely based on your skin color, sooner or later."
"When you're black you have to know the right people, otherwise you're a nobody."

there's nothing funny going on.  Same for the "When you're a woman" cases, as in the example in which "when" and "if" are interchangeable:
"When you're a woman you have to prove, more than if you're a man, that..."

There's no way to get parallel non-jocular (and/or non-trans) readings for "While you're a woman you have more to prove."

YMMV.  

LH
> 
> On 9/29/2015 2:57 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: when = 'if'
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> 
>>> On Sep 29, 2015, at 2:35 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM> =
>> wrote:
>>> =20
>>> You're absolutely right, Ben. At least it's "if" in this version.
>>> =20
>>> But the major point stands.  I've heard the "when" usage a number of =
>> times,
>>> though only in humorous contexts, likely just within this decade.
>>> =20
>>> JL
>> Only the "when you're a cat" example (if it had been a "when you're a =
>> cat" example, which I agree it could have been) is humorous; the other =
>> non-temporal cases of "when you're ..." cases, with "...a woman", =
>> "blind", etc. (and with impersonal subjects and generic readings, and no =
>> implications of "sometimes you aren't") are serious and entirely =
>> natural, at least for me.
>> 
>> LH
>>> =20
>>> On Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 2:16 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> =
>> wrote:
>>> =20
>>>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>>> -----------------------
>>>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>>> Poster:       Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
>>>> Subject:      Re: when =3D 'if'
>>>> =20
>>>> =
>> --------------------------------------------------------------------------=
>> -----
>>>> =20
>>>> On Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 1:55 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>>>> =20
>>>>> OED when, def. 8a ends by saying "sometimes nearly =3D 'if.'"
>>>>> =20
>>>>> Cites go back to ca1175.
>>>>> =20
>>>>> There is, however what I take to be a recent usage that goes further =
>> and
>>>>> essentially equals "if."
>>>>> =20
>>>>> Current TV commercial:
>>>>> =20
>>>>> "When you're a cat, you ignore people. It's what you do."
>>>>> =20
>>>>> I.e., you ignore people "if" you're a cat. "When" implies there are =
>> times
>>>>> when you're not.
>>>>> =20
>>>>> Which is never, if you're a cat.
>>>> =20
>>>> I think you might have misheard that, Jon. Sounds like "if" to me:
>>>> =20
>>>> =
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttps-3A__www.youtube.com_wat=
>> ch-3Fv-3DKk-5F6-5FVhwijA&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4M=
>> u39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3Ds0ar5C0SR85JlyznQ3AtNLaMf8t5eKLyh=
>> IIbxuXLdoM&s=3DtcXIfw7l8Mgt5l5Ht_oehLmM_XsvO1TcHmxiEpXMEVw&e=3D=20
>>>> =20
>>>> 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."
>>>> =20
>>>> --bgz
>>>> =20
>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> The American Dialect Society - =
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.americandialect.=
>> org&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsS=
>> xPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3Ds0ar5C0SR85JlyznQ3AtNLaMf8t5eKLyhIIbxuXLdoM&s=3DAVIWp_=
>> h0j6mgw3nU4bv4_-bfgbvXSaBiah0iumAttMo&e=3D=20
>>>> =20
>>> =20
>>> =20
>>> =20
>>> --=20
>>> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the =
>> truth."
>>> =20
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>>> The American Dialect Society - =
>> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.americandialect.=
>> org&d=3DAwIBaQ&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsS=
>> xPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3Ds0ar5C0SR85JlyznQ3AtNLaMf8t5eKLyhIIbxuXLdoM&s=3DAVIWp_=
>> h0j6mgw3nU4bv4_-bfgbvXSaBiah0iumAttMo&e=3D=20
>> 
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwIC-g&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=MtZIv82teyldca60EKzETTUWHf3PFVJ2nIFvlLosKLU&s=rpB9udXuyqQ_A_JIWi_Fp0uwiBtNelaJn860nqhlLzE&e= 
> 
> -- 
> Dr. Neal Whitman
> Lecturer, ESL Composition
> School of Teaching and Learning
> College of Education and Human Ecology
> Arps Hall
> 1945 North High Street
> whitman.11 at osu.edu
> (614) 260-1622
> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwIC-g&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=MtZIv82teyldca60EKzETTUWHf3PFVJ2nIFvlLosKLU&s=rpB9udXuyqQ_A_JIWi_Fp0uwiBtNelaJn860nqhlLzE&e= 

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list