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Can you dig it?

Posted by ESC on June 24, 2011 at 15:21

In Reply to: Can you dig it? posted by Baceseras on June 18, 2011 at 18:20:

: : Can you dig it?
: : I can dig it.
: : You dig it?
: : I dig it.
: : You dig?
: : Dig?
: : etc.

: : I've always had the impression that it came from the hippie movement in the 60's. But I can't figure out what the act of digging has to to with comprehending or appreciating something. Or why the expression seems to have these two separate meanings. You dig?

: [For the slang usage, the OED has a citation from a New York newspaper (The World Telegram) in 1936: “‘You dig?’ is a short cut for ‘You understand?’” The figurative use of “digging,” as for knowledge or understanding, which are not to be found on the surface of things, goes back centuries. It was an innovation of U.S. English to leave off the indirect object and let the verb “to dig” stand by itself for “to know, to understand.” Already in 1827 (again according to the OED) the Harvard Register gives: “the sunken eye and sallow countenance bespoke the man who _dug_ sixteen hours per diem.” There “to dig” means “to study hard,” and from there to the slang sense is a short step. - Baceseras.]

A couple of related phrases. Anthony Wells, a New Orleans resident interviewed about "the storm," before and after, ended some of his statements with " feel me?" "They gave everybody a deficit card for $480, but we had to spend it at Wal-Mart, so actually what did they give us, you feel me?" ("Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans" by Dan Baum. Page 294.)

Pam, a vampire, couldn't directly warn Sookie about trouble brewing. Pam's master had prohibited her from doing so. Pam talked around it, giving hints. Then said, "Are you picking up what I'm putting down?" ("Dead Reckoning," Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11, by Charlaine Harris.)