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Re: Even As We Speak

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 14, 2004

In Reply to: Even As We Speak posted by Ray Carter on May 14, 2004

: Even As We Speak. I've heard many in the media and other people use this phrase. I've searched many areas of the web, with no results. Somewhere I heard a loose definition, but I can't remember where. The phrase was somehow attributed to the Bible. It was at the Last Supper, and Jesus spoke the phrase. It meant that "even as we speak", in other words he meant, right now, while we're talking together, one of you will deny me. That "one" of course was Judas, who did deny him, for 30 pieces of silver. Does anyone have any follow-up or explanations for the derivation of this phrase; Even As We Speak?

Forget the Bible (in English translation). "Even" is one of those short, old words that has woven its way into the language in many capacities, in many meanings, of which only a few are easy to define. Even the OED sometimes struggles to define words like this, but their efforts are well worth perusing. In this case, see the OED Online s.v. "Even, adv.", definitions II.6.b. and II.9.b. I'll quote only II.9.b. "9. Intimating that the sentence is an extreme case of a more general proposition implied (=Fr. meme). ...b. Attached to a word or clause expressing time...or any attendant circumstance." The citations given, some quite old, seem relevant to the question. We could add innumerable examples of "even" used in the same way as "even as we speak"--even as the heavens fall, even while I'm at work, even in the middle of lunch, and we can go on to examples where time is not the attendant circumstance. Many individuals use the phrase "even as we speak" colloquially, that is, in informal conversation, with no feeling of studiedness. (Is that a word?) SS