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zompist bboard :: View topic - "what with"
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"what with"
http://www.incatena.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=41187
Page 1 of 1

Author:  linguoboy [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:06 pm ]
Post subject:  "what with"

So what's with the "what with NP" construction? Is this simply an idiom or can we do better than that?

Examples culled from the wilds of the Internet:

"What with the population crunch and all, we're just reproducing ourselves[.]"

"What with the fire code I can't buy anything even if I have the money for it."

"The other solution is messy, what with the square root in it."

Obligatory Shakespeare citation:

"And such a flood of greatness fell on you,
What with our help, what with the absent king,
What with the injuries of a wanton time,
The seeming sufferances that you had borne,
And the contrarious winds that held the king
So long in his unlucky Irish wars
That all in England did repute him dead[.]"

Author:  zompist [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

I don't know where it came from, but I can take the citation back two centuries, to Wyclif (1380):

Many..ben dede bi Þe weie, what wiÞ traueile & cold..& enemyes & ofte raunsonyd.

Though the OED does say that 'what used to be able to precede other prepositions:

[1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 7100] What for sorow, and what thurgh smoke And what thurgh cald, and what thurgh hete.. Þai salle ay grete.

Author:  Viktor77 [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 1:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  Melteor [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

^^"Give him what-for," might be an ossified use.

Author:  Xephyr [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  zompist [ Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  Magb [ Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

Wiktionary also lists "now" as an old meaning: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hw%C3%A6t. Could "what with" be an instance of that meaning, i.e. "now with"?

Author:  Nortaneous [ Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

most cases of 'what with', you can drop 'what' and it still works fine

Author:  Melteor [ Mon Oct 22, 2012 7:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

"No, thanks"::"No thanks"
What, with"::"What with"

Author:  zompist [ Mon Oct 22, 2012 9:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  Vuvuzela [ Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  clawgrip [ Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  Nortaneous [ Mon Oct 22, 2012 11:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

what with foo and all

also:
with the population crunch and all, we're just reproducing ourselves
?with the fire code I can't buy anything even if I have the money for it
(different?)The other solution is messy, with the square root in it.
so i guess i was wrong earlier, sort of?

Author:  Radius Solis [ Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  zompist [ Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"

Well, I don't agree... there's something different about "what with", though it's hard to put a finger on it. It seems more exasperated.

A better paraphrase for "What with..." might be "Having to deal with..."

It's not ungrammatical with positive stuff, but something seems off that way. But there may be a better way of thinking about it.

Author:  clawgrip [ Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  Salmoneus [ Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


Author:  Skomakar'n [ Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "what with"


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