In Reply to: What posted by Smokey Stover on January 30, 2010 at 05:18:
: : : 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?
[I suppose "What?" is just the toffy version of "Innit?", innit? - Bac.]