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Don't you now?

Posted by Smokey Stover on June 21, 2007

In Reply to: Don't you now? posted by Ali Kahrobaie on June 21, 2007

: Does anybody know the meaning of "Don't you now?" in the following context in Dos Passos's "Big Money":

: Sam said "I hate the artificiality of it."
: "Don't you now?" said Agnes from the door.

I thought the phrase was characteristically British, even though I've heard it many times. I don't think it's heard much anymore. Agnes is being skeptical, with possibly a touch of sarcasm. The adverb is there, I believe, to so indicate. "Don't you?" would have just sounded like a question. Dos Passos could not indicate the precise inflection of the question, but certainly should have placed a comma after "you." The sentence has one accent, a strong accent on the first syllable.

In this particular exchange, Agnes is keeping the conversational door open for further remarks, but is probably skeptical in a way that says "Prove that I should care." Perhaps if I knew more about Agnes and Sam I could be more certain, but probably not.

Another example, made up by me: John: "I think we should get a dog." Marcia (his wife): "Oh, do you, now." You can use a different adverb, if you like. He: "I don't think we should buy a new car." She: "Oh, don't you, then." ("Now" is, however, much mre common.) Once again, a little sarcastic skepticism. Sometimes "don't you" is pronounced "doancha," usually spelled "doncha," as in "doncha know?"