Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 10:33:55 -0500
From: Gerald Cohen
Subject: Re: "Is it raining out?"

A 5/14/98 ads-l message asked:

>Is it due to regional differences that when asking about the weather some
>say,"is it raining out?" and others simply, "is it raining?"? why include
>the "out"? it's not raining in.

----The "out" here possibly originated in sentences of the type "Is it
nice out?" (where "out" = "outside" is justifiably used). Possible
answer (with transference of "out" from the preceding question): "No, it's
raining out." (where "out" is unnecessary). Then the latter sentence could
be turned into a question: "Is it raining out?"

In the arcana of general-linguistic theory is a "Law of Least Effort,"
according to which speakers use only the minimal effort necessary to get
their point across. This so-called law is contradicted by "out" in "Is it
raining out?"

--Gerald Cohen