Date: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 15:50:11 -0800


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/.

Peter McGraw