Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 15:50:11 -0800
From: Peter McGraw pmcgraw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]LINFIELD.EDU
Subject: Re: pragmatic change in progress?
In case Ron is still interested in responses to his original question
about generational usage (or lack thereof) of "Why,..." I remember both of
my grandmothers using it, and I remember myself as a child also using
"If...why,...." as an equivalent of "If...then...." I don't think I've
used the word in any but the interrogative sense since my childhood (i.e.,
about 50 years ago). I don't think I made a conscious decision to abandon
the other 'why's--they probably just fell into disuse because I didn't
hear anyone else using them. I am also a w/wh distinguisher, but I don't
remember whether I used /w-/ in the non-interrogative 'why'.
I also remember at least one of my grandmothers, and her sisters, using
"Why,..." as an introduction to an expression of indignation or mock
indignation: "Why, the very idea!" I'm pretty sure I can still hear her
using this specific expression with /hw/.