[Ads-l] "still" a question?

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Tue Feb 10 02:57:58 UTC 2015

Looks to me like a sort of blend: "I still can't believe it!" and "Can you believe it?" --- two sentences that have been spoken repeatedly by perhaps millions of Super Bowl viewers recently. 
Gerald Cohen 
 Laurence Horn, February 09, 2015 7:06 PM wrote: 
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; Can you still believe it?

He later uses the same syntax in asking Boston-based journalist Bob Ryan 
"Bob, can you still believe that call?"

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?"

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.

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

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