Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 15:38:22 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: pragmatic change in progress? Well, I'm older than 54 and this discoursal or exlamatopry 'why' is completely native to me. Here's a funny fact about it though. I'm a /hw/-/w/ distinguisher; that is, 'whale' and 'wail' are not homophones for me. BUT - interrogative why ('Why did you do that?') is always /hw/ in my speech, and the discourse marker 'why' ('Why, it's on the the other side of the room') is invariably /w/. Any other standard speakers out there like me who have this distinction (not /hw/ - /w/ in general; lots of us old codgers from some places have that, but this specific sepaation of the two 'whys')? DInIS PS: Of course, if you don't have the distinction at all, then you're just not a speaker of standard American English. The best proof of that I can think of right off the top of my head (where such comments all seem to come from) is that you don't sound like me. >At 10:55 PM 11/21/97 -0500, Ron Butters wrote: > >> I had a lot of trouble getting my students to focus on the meaning >> differences between WELL and WHY in these environments. Though they >> understood the differences, they kept saying, "But nobody under age >50 would >> ever use WHY in that way--only old people talk that way!" This was >not the >> answer I expected. Has anybody else had this reaction from students >about WHY >> in this usage? What are the reactions of y'all? Is there a change >in progress >> here? > >I'm 54, and I'm sure I've never used "why" this way except when >conciously imitating someone else's style. I perceive it as both >older generation and predominately female. Instead of "why" I'd use >either "of course" or an intonation pattern that indicates "I'm >surprised you asked". > >David Johns >Waycross College >Waycross, GA 31501 >djohns[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Dennis R. Preston Department of Linguistics and Languages Michigan State University East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Office: (517)353-0740 Fax: (517)432-2736