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

Wed Sep 26 19:00:09 UTC 2007

        I'm suggesting just that.  I don't think it's coincidence that
this example uses substantially the same wording.  This nonce-use in a
newspaper column is hardly likely to be the source, but, in combination
with other examples shortly thereafter, it strongly suggests that the
archetype had already passed into broader use.  The subsequently posted
1977 quotation from Feiffer shows that the catch-phrase had indeed
already achieved currency.

        It's quite common, in pursuing these antedatings, that the
earliest examples are ambiguous and require judgment calls.  If my
example had been from 1885 rather than 1985, for example, it would have
seemed more likely that the use of this wording was just happenstance.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Arnold M. Zwicky
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2007 7:04 PM
Subject: Re: Who are you and what have you done with...

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

>         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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