Talk:what

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The relative pronouns need to be checked. The Fr and Es ones were wrong - the relative pronoun and interrogative pronoun are different in each of these two languages. The same might apply to the other languages already listed.

My accent has the wine-whine merger, and I definitely don't pronounce "what" the same as "watt". Could we have more specific dialects? --Bran

If you have the merger, you pronounce them the same. If not, then 'wine' and 'whine' are as different as 'watt' and 'what'.129.67.89.165 16:34, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Even if your accent has the whine-wine merger, you could still pronounce them differently, as I do. An example is when one pronounces "what" as [wʌt] and "watt" as [wɑt]. It seems that only in British English, and with the whine-wine merger would someone pronounce these two words as the same.

Can someone change this please?

Done. Ferike333 21:34, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Expression[edit]

The British expression 'what' as in 'It's rather late, what?' is outdated. I know of no one who talks that way and no dictionary which lists it.--90.197.254.70 15:54, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

If it's outdated then it exists. It pretty much nullifies your argument. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:58, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
If my argument were that it doesn't exist, I would be incorrect. My argument is that it isn't current. It could be marked as 'obsolete' or 'archaic' like other entries are.--90.197.216.67 21:49, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

"Interjection"[edit]

   Hmm, we have two senses under that heading. (As a Yank, i think i've never heard the what-what variant of the second sense, but the second-sense "What" and/or the Eh-wot that i think i've assumed to be interchangeable with it seems familiar from films. But i digress...) We call its use, as the first word of a sentence and followed by a comma, an interjection (as if distinct from the interrogative pronoun), and at least in effect back that up by the example

What! That’s amazing.

I sadly note that i can't imagine saying it in a way that justifies that punctuation, tho i find

What? That’s amazing!

quite plausible, and assume by default that they don't designate two oral forms that are worth non-specialists (if anyone) distinguishing between. So i wonder why anyone would construe that pronunciation onto those three words, and why they have not offered a more compelling example of a sentence whose only word is "what". I also note both that the w:interrobang remains pretty much a curiosity, and that identifying an interjection that parallels any interrogative pronoun strikes me as redundant to the following intuition: that any sentence whose only word is an interrogative pronoun has its pronunciation better represented with either a question mark, question mark followed by exclamation point, or interrobang, than by an exclamation point. (And its meaning strikes me as no better represented by an exclamation point.)
--Jerzyt 10:28, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Adverb[edit]

   The defn i found was

Such; this is; that is.

and was accompanied by the examples

What a pity.
What a beautiful day!

but those examples are misleading as evidence of the role that "what" plays in them. If i say "Pity." (without any particular stress) i probably mean "That is admittedly a minor misfortune, but i deny culpability for my role in its occurrence, and if those affected think i screwed them, they expect too much from life."
   "What" and "Such" each act, before the "a <noun>" construction, to intensify the predication of the noun, or to intensify the adjective(s), indicating e.g. a notable pity or a notably beautiful day -- and intensification is an adverbial function. The elision of "this is" or "that is" is a separate phenomenon and non-adverbial, and happens to co-occur with "what" for reasons unrelated to the adverbial sense of "what". Such elision may occur unaccompanied by intensification, as when we exit a building and i utter "Hmm, damp." (bcz i didn't bring any rubbers) or we exit a cave and i utter "Sundown." (bcz we'd anticipated traversing a half hour's worth of woods in daylight).
   In a line, "this is" or "that is" is never part of the meaning of adverbial "what", and to treat them as part of what "what" itself implies tends to belie the identification of the grammatical role of "what" as being adverbial. So i have eliminated those two supposed (and non-adverbial) meanings for "what"; i doubt there are any usages where either

  1. the function is not intensification, or
  2. specifying which entity is implicitly intended by the noun phrase following "What" is markedly more informative than specifying what entity would be intended if the noun phrase had occurred without "What" before it.

--Jerzyt 10:28, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

We give "what a beautiful day!" as an adverb, but "what a talent!" as a determiner. I believe this is contradictory. Equinox 00:23, 5 April 2016 (UTC)