Who are you and what have you done with...

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Tue Sep 25 23:04:21 UTC 2007

On Sep 25, 2007, at 3:47 PM, Baker, John wrote, in response to my
saying about his Francisco example from 1985, "this one strikes me as
just literal, two questions addressed to someone
who obviously isn't Francisco":

>         As opposed to what?  Certainly the intended use is literal, by
> the screeching woman if not necessarily by the newspaper columnist who
> is quoting her (or, more likely, paraphrasing her).  My contention is
> that a catch-phrase of this kind would start out as a standardized way
> of asking two literal, serious questions.

of course.  but we're trying to find the first uses of the
catchphrase.  if we go looking for the sequence "Who are you?  (And)
what have you done with X?", we could probably find literal uses of
this wording, or equivalent wordings, dating back to Old English.  i
don't see how we could detect a period when this becomes a
"standardized way" of asking these two questions; it's simply a
perfectly ordinary way of asking these two questions.  "Who are you?
(And) what's happened to X?" and "Who the hell are you? (And) where
is X?" are other ways, and there are still others.  are you
suggesting that there was some period when people started using the
"what have you done with" version in preference to the alternatives?


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