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Regarding query http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-3362.html#1
Thank you very much to all of you who found the time to email me and share their views with me. In particular, I would like to thank S Ervin-Tripp, J Lawler, M Matloff, P Newman, and J Walters.
Most of the people who wrote to me associated parenthetical ?what? with hesitation, approximation, and accuracy.
It was also pointed to me that parenthetical ?what? may resemble a certain modern Israeli Hebrew construction, viz. ?ma ze X? as in ?yesh la simla xadash, ma ze yafa?. It would be interesting to see what the exact syntax and function of this construction is and if in any way it corresponds to the English parenthetical.
Also, parenthetical ?what? was linked to other one-word parenthetical insertions like ?like?. From what I?ve seen so far, I think that this observation is on the right track.
Finally, I was referred to only one article that might be of some help:
Postal, P. (1976), ?Linguistic anarchy notes?, in J. McCawley, (ed.).
Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 7. New York: Academic Press.
Again, thanks to all of you who emailed me.
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