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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: June ::
Re: Whatever
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1019  Saturday, 31 May 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 May 2003 05:57:09 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1012 Re: Whatever [Sally or Shakespeare?]

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 May 2003 07:42:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1012

[3]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 May 2003 20:48:57 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1005 Re: Whatever


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 23 May 2003 05:57:09 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1012 Re: Whatever [Sally or Shakespeare?]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1012 Re: Whatever [Sally or Shakespeare?]

Sam Small quotes Don Bloom as saying: ". . . a combination of epithet
and verbal punctuation is commonly used by people of limited verbal
skill to mean essentially 'I have gotten myself into a conceptual
thicket that I am too lazy, too bored or too stupid to get out of, so
I'm not talking about it any more.'"

Then Sam Small writes, "Don is quite wrong.  'Whatever' means 'I clearly
understood your meaning but I have not the slightest intention of
engaging you in conversation - in fact my response is deliberately
disrespectful - and although I could refute what you have said I do not
want to create a situation where I expend energy and waste my time.'"

Well, well, well.  I would love to hear how you all reconcile the little
blonde airhead in the Peanuts cartoon, Sally, I think she is, who is
infamous for her "whatever" whenever she is faced with a thought she
finds too intellectual for her.  From the realm of the famous
cartoonist, Schultz, it appears "whatever" reflects a lack of
Intellect.  Or, from Will Shakespeare, cunningly punning, too much?
Whatever :)

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 23 May 2003 07:42:11 -0500
Subject: 14.1012 Re: Whatever
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1012 Re: Whatever

Sam Small attempts a correction

>Don Bloom says: ". . . a combination of epithet and verbal punctuation
>is commonly used by people of limited verbal skill to mean essentially
>"I have gotten myself into a conceptual thicket that I am too lazy, too
>bored or too stupid to get out of, so I'm not talking about it any
>more."
>
>Don is quite wrong.  'Whatever' means "I clearly understood your meaning
>but I have not the slightest intention of engaging you in conversation -
>in fact my response is deliberately disrespectful - and although I could
>refute what you have said I do not want to create a situation where I
>expend energy and waste my time."

No, I'm not. But neither is he. Context and tone of voice mean
everything here. If you say the W-word just after someone else has been
talking, and with a note of asperity, then it means something like what
Sam suggests. (I would modify it slightly: "I'm baffled by what you say
because I don't understand it, or I'm worried and annoyed because I'm
losing the argument, so I'm going on to something else without trying to
respond to what you just said.") If you say it after you yourself have
been talking, and with a tone of chagrin, then it has the comic/ironic
sense that I defined before.

When I think about it, I'm inclined to believe that something like Sam's
(or my second) definition should be listed first. Ironical meanings
generally follow serious ones.

Just to prove that this is not an irrelevant and self-indulgent by-way,
we may generalize from this example to many lines of Shakespeare, which
clearly have a slang or cant meaning, and depending on how the actor
pronounces them can mean very different and even contradictory things.
How one is to determine the serious or ironical meaning of such lines
(if a scholar), and then how to convey that meaning to a modern audience
that may have no clue what you're talking about (if an actor), is the
hard part.

But it does occupy many of the spare moments of the people on this list.
Imagine the trouble we might be getting into if we didn't have the
puzzles to harangue each other about.

Cheers,
don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Monday, 26 May 2003 20:48:57 -0700
Subject: 14.1005 Re: Whatever
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1005 Re: Whatever

Richard Burt:

>The English columnist is clearly oblivious to the manifold wonders of
>"whatever."

Agreed.

Marilyn Monroe: "Ever notice how 'what the hell' is always the right
answer?"

Steve
http://princehamlet.com

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