FW: "How ADJ is that?" (1970)

Seán Fitzpatrick grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET
Tue Feb 21 14:45:16 UTC 2006

Wasn't this one of the verbal tics of the Chandler Bing character on
Friends, along with "Could <substantive> BE more <adj>?", e.g., "Could you
BE more ridiculous?"?

At first I boggled at the idea of both stress and falling intonation on
"THAT", but you are right.  The expression is not spoken as a question and
could be punctuated with an exclamation point.

So we have question-like inversions spoken as statements, and statements
ended with interrogative up inflection.  I think these Gen-Xers are just
messing with our minds.

Seán Fitzpatrick
Help the ontologically challenged realize their potential

-----Original Message-----
From: Laurence Horn [mailto:laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Monday, 20 February, 2006 12:11
Subject: Re: "How ADJ is that?" (1970)

At 2:19 AM -0500 2/20/06, Wilson Gray wrote:
>The expressions "How fine is that?" and "How bad is that?" were in
>common use among white GI's as far back as 1959. It's too bad that
>there weren't portable tape-recorders available at the time to record
>such expressions in the wild, just in case that someone might wonder
>about them a half-century later! ;-)

Just thought it worth noting that one key part of this construction, with
this particular use, is the stress on "THAT", and another is the falling
intonation at the end.


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