Origin of ‘who knew?’
Posted: 17 August 2009 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2009-08-17

Any ideas on this, anyone?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 August 2009 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6887
Joined  2007-01-03

Can you give a context in which this phrase is used in the sense you’re asking about?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 August 2009 09:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3133
Joined  2007-01-30

I think he’s referring to its use as a rhetorical question, often used as an expression of mild surprise.  I’ve always connected it with Jewish American patterns of speech but I’m probably way off base.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 August 2009 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2009-08-17
aldiboronti - 18 August 2009 09:26 AM

I think he’s referring to its use as a rhetorical question, often used as an expression of mild surprise.  I’ve always connected it with Jewish American patterns of speech but I’m probably way off base.

That’s it exactly: mild surprise.  Mild surprise expressed somewhat humorously: “So, you’ve heard that Maria ran a marathon on Sunday, in pretty good time, too!  And she’s such a heavy smoker!  Who knew?” I also have a feeling that it is Jewish American in origin (there’s the hint of a Woody Allen-ish shrug about the phrase to my ear) and was actually wondering whether anyone else could corroborate that.  Interesting that you would have the same intuition, aldiboronti.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 August 2009 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4758
Joined  2007-01-29

I have that intuition as well.

Profile