trivial English "(eh) what?"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 22 19:12:46 UTC 2007

As a matter of fact, I do.


On 5/22/07, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> Subject:      trivial English "(eh) what?"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Long stereotyped as a ridiculous Anglicism in the U.S., Eugene O'Neill places it in the speech of a young American officer back from World War I.  I bring this to your attention because I believe that O'Neill was not unique in this.  My feeling, though, is that it was a rare affectation, perhaps confined to anglophilic Ivy-Leaguers:
> 1918 E. O'Neill _Shell Shock_ 11 []
> A lot of things can happen in that time, what.
> BTW, I'm not sure that OED's (4.c) 1850 ex. really represents this. 1785 is less iffy, but there's nothing absolutely solid till c1891.   The sense illustrated then (and in O'Neill) is not George III's 1785 "What say you?" but more like, "Don't you agree?"
> JL
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