Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 09:23:48 -0700


Subject: Re: statements spoken as if it were a question

I don't know the origin of the statement with question intonation, but I

think some people may be barking up the wrong trEE?

If it originated in the South, it is certainly no longer restricted to the

South. It's certainly heard here in Oregon in recent years, and I've always

associated it with California. I'm not sure why - maybe because it's often

accompanied by other Californianisms, though I wouldn't swear to

this. The person I hear using it most is a male friend who has lived all

his life in Oregon and has no associations with either California or the

South. I have no idea where he picked it up.

If it's associated with Irish and/or Scottish speech, where was it all

those years between the time of early Irish and Scottish immigration to

Appalachia and the last 2-5 years? I don't remember hearing it any

earlier than that - certainly not during my years in Chattanooga

(1970-76). Also, the high end-of-sentence pitch so characteristic of some

Irish and Scottish speakers seems to me to have a different intonation

pattern: rising, then slightly falling, rather than the simple rise of

question intonation. The Irish/Scottish "lilt" has always seemed to me

quite distinct from the question pattern, though admittedly this might be

merely because my native dialect is American.

Peter McGraw

Linfield College

McMinnville, OR