Monday, May 29, 2006

do what?

there is a little southern thaing that is seemingly popping up everywhere these days, or perhaps it's just that i hadn't noticed the prevalence of it before now, for some avoidant reason. it is a phrase, and it simply baffles me. remember that, in general, southerners like to draw out the words in their sentence, or the syllables in their word. for instance, we have a neighbor named tim, but i always think of him as "tee-yum."

let's say you're having a conversation with your (southern) neighbor. you're telling them of the, oh, say, water in your swimming pool. their eyes wander... their face goes blank. as you prattle on, you realize that they are no longer listening to you until suddenly their unfocused eyes snap slowly back to your face. realization hits, their mind has wandered, and they no longer have any idea of what you are speaking. eyes focusing, they peer into your face and utter the incomprehensible two words.

"do WHAT?"

i guess it's a replacement for phrases such as "pardon?," "excuse me?," or "what the hell were you just saying?" however, to my ears, it comes out as a kind of blunt way of asking "what are you doing?" well, i was speaking to you, and you either weren't listening, couldn't hear me, or couldn't understand me. that's what i was doing. but WAIT! oh, i understand. you simply want me to repeat what i was just SAYING! OHHHH! why didn't you just say "WHAT?" why did you add the "DO" in front?

to me, the word "do" is an action word, and i have no idea why it would be inserted before "what" to denote a misunderstanding.

i have a snappy comeback for the "do what" phenomenon, one that is untried. the next time it happens to me (probably later on today) and someone looks at me and says "do what?," i'm going to smile broadly and say "diddy diddy dum diddy doo!"

6 comments:

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks for this, Melissa. If I ever have someone say "do what?" to me, I'll know what it means! :) You'll have to tell us how your retort went down! ;)

hellomelissa said...

i haven't had the guts to do it yet! maybe someday...

Anonymous said...

I hear your pain! It's not even "what", more like
"do WHUT?" The first time it happened to me, I kept saying "Nothing." "Do whut?" "Nothing" I repeated. "No, do whut?" "No, don't do anything." It took a couple of tries before I finally got that I was supposed to just repeat myself. -Beth

Mr. L said...

Nothing like a good Manfred Mann retort to put them in their place!!

sruthi said...

hahahaa i know someone who is from the south, and he says "i'd like a coke and a sandwich please" and expects the waiter to ask, "what kind of coke would you like?" because in the south, it's coke just like it's pop in the midwest and soda in the northeast.

hellomelissa said...

i encountered the "coke" phenomenon in indiana, sruthi! in this particular part of the south, most folks say "soda." when i visit my parents in michigan, the word "pop," pronounced in that twangy michigan accent, rattles my brain. but you're in chicago, so you know EXACTLY what i mean.

thanks for the comment, beth! so you had never heard the "do what" thing in maryland?