Query: Origin of "How come?"

Herbert Stahlke hstahlke at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Thu Dec 5 02:32:23 UTC 2002

In SE Michigan and NW Ohio there is also the variant "How's come ..."
Either this is an analogical development along Gerald's line after the
do-support take-over, or the expession is of more recent origin.  I suspect
the former.


Well, I would guess it comes from "How come you to (they to, etc...)"
before do-support took over in English. (Then you don't have to
propose so much funny deletion).


   I've received a query about the origin of the expression "How
come?" as in "How come nobody thought of calling home?"

    I assume "How come?" arose by shortening from "How does/did it
come about that...?" Or am I missing something here?

Gerald Cohen

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 353-9290

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