Query: Origin of "How come?"
Gordon, Matthew J.
GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Thu Dec 5 02:44:59 UTC 2002
In support of Dennis' suggestion, a quick search on the LION (Literature Online) database shows the form to be fairly common in Early Modern English (before we were burdened with do-support).
From: Dennis R. Preston [mailto:preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU]
Sent: Wed 12/4/2002 1:57 PM
To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Subject: Re: Query: Origin of "How come?"
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?
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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