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.
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!"