In Reply to: What posted by Victoria S Dennis on January 28, 2010 at 08:35:
: : Re "what?" used at the end of a sentence or clause. What is the origin and meaning of "what?" when used at the end of a sentence or clause, as "... but a bit large, what?"
: I've always presumed that it's the beginning of "what do you think?", "what would you say?" or some such phrase. (VSD)
Victoria assumes ellipsis or apocopation, which is quite plausible. However, in the example given I would like to suggest, as the elided phrase, "is that not what you think?" The problem, though, is that one has to assume a relatively drastic ellipsis, and the missing links seem not to have turned up. The OED does not give us a fossil record. At least I did not stumble on one in the long article on "what."
This use of "what" sounds appropriate for, say, Dr. John Watson. Are there any more of those around, or has the expression been gracious enough to go extinct?