[Ads-l] "still" a question?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 10 01:39:36 UTC 2015

I'm with you. I'm happy that I didn't actually hear it.

On Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 8:06 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      "still" a question?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Some of you may recall Seattle coach Pete Carroll's ill-fated decision =
> at the end of last week's Super Bowl by Seattle coach Pete Carroll to =
> try a pass from the 1 yard line. The decision backfired and has been =
> almost universally second-guessed ever since.  On ESPN's weekly Sports =
> Reporters panel show yesterday, moderator Jay Harris began the =
> discussion of Carroll's play call with this question:
> "Maybe THE most controversial call in the history of America's biggest =
> sporting event=85Can you still believe it?
> He later uses the same syntax in asking Boston-based journalist Bob Ryan =
> "Bob, can you still believe that call?"=20
> For me, these questions are impossible as given, even though they =
> clearly expect (and in Ryan's case received) the response "I still can't =
> believe it."  In other words, it's as if Harris is asking "You still =
> can't believe that call, right?"=20
> Am I just being old and crotchety?  Is there a "dialect difference" on =
> the use of "still" in this sort of question?  Notice that it's perfectly =
> natural to ask "Can you still ride the subway for $2.50?" or "Do bears =
> still shit in the woods?", where there's a presupposition that the =
> mentioned practice or state of affairs used to hold in the past.  The =
> only question is whether "still" questions are possible when the =
> opposite assumption holds, i.e. here that you couldn't believe the call =
> after it happened, and I'm asking whether that's still true.
> LH=
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list