Really?  Seriously? 
Posted: 02 September 2011 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I noticed a new usage over the past few years, entirely tonal.

Really? (often followed by “seriously?"), spoken usually as an interjection in a sardonic, mildly incredulous tone, feigning disbelief, implying strong condemnation, concluding an argument rather offering reasons.

e.g.

My wife invited her ex husband out to lunch.  Really?  After all the abuse we’ve taken from him?

The Republicans don’t want to approve the extension of unemployment insurance.  Really? Seriously? - , they want to reduce deficit on the backs of people who lost their jobs?

On TV, I hear Jon Stewart on the Daily Show use this, but I know it is new. I did not hear him use this three/four years ago.

A. I wish I knew how to express the tonality. (Is “tone” the right word?)
B. Has anyone else noted this?
C. into what file does this kind of development in language go; it is not a neologism, obviously.

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Posted: 02 September 2011 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Try this http://www.voisse.com/

Or you could think of a movie etc that features an example and post a youtube clip.

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Posted: 02 September 2011 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Reb Wlm - 02 September 2011 04:09 PM

A. I wish I knew how to express the tonality. (Is “tone” the right word?)
B. Has anyone else noted this?
C. into what file does this kind of development in language go; it is not a neologism, obviously.

A:
As for “seriously?” maybe ‘cadence of inflection’ might be a better choice than simple linear “tonality,” or intonation, though tonality seems to cover it except for what I hear as rising inflection indicating the incredulity and the question.  It may be related to the recent habit of using an inflection generally reserved for a question in the middle of a sentence, seemingly to elicit agreement possibly with an eye to emotionally entraining the audience in order to gain easier acceptance.  Not that there is anything controversial usually being said.  Used mainly by women, I seem to recall in my mind’s ear, and I think, “valley girl” of the 1980’s.  Wikipedia suggests “uptalk, upspeak, rising inflection or high rising intonation (HRI)” (see link below) Intonation, but requiring some indication of tone relationship or relative pitch over time.  There may indeed be an elegant linguistic notation for something like this.  As a layperson I am clueless about this. 

B:  I have often asked, and have been asked, “Humph. ...(slight pause)… Are you serious?” after a raised eyebrow.  I thought it might be interchangeable with “… Seriously?” And I’ve heard it as you describe, “Really?  Seriously?” In the US, can’t mail down a time or place but certainly since around the mid 1980’s. 

C:
It might be put into the ”High rising terminal” intonation file area if there is such a thing. 

I think the spirit of the title of the following book as I read it captures a version of it well:

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character, 1985 an edited collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman.

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Posted: 03 September 2011 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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A. I wish I knew how to express the tonality. (Is “tone” the right word?)

This may not be exactly the “how to express” you were intending, but here is something from wikipedia

He found it on the street?
[ hiː ˈfaʊnd ɪt | ɒn ðə ↗ˈˈstɹiːt ‖ ]

Here the rising pitch on street indicates that the question hinges on that word, on where he found it, not whether he found it.

Yes, he found it on the street.
[↘ˈjɛs ‖ hi ˈfaʊnd ɪt | ɒn ðə ↘ˈstɹiːt ‖ ]

How did you ever escape?
[↗ˈˈhaʊ dɪdjuː | ˈɛvɚ | ə↘ˈˈskeɪp ‖ ]

This seems to point to a workable approach to communicate at least some intonation information to others via writing.

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Posted: 03 September 2011 10:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Sometime in 2008 Saturday Night Live added a feature to the Weekend Update segment called “Really!?! with Seth (Meyers) & Amy (Poehler)”.  They would take some celebrity or politician who had done something stupid, point out each ironic detail, and say “Really!?!” after each tidbit.  I’m sure they didn’t invent this use and tone, but they made it popular.

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Posted: 06 September 2011 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Reb Wlm - 02 September 2011 04:09 PM

B. Has anyone else noted this?

Srsly?

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Posted: 06 September 2011 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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‘Really? Seriously?’ is surely just one of a number of expressions used to prolong a tedious conversation because people in general are too polite just to walk away or too witless to be able to change the subject or are unable to cope with the awkward silence which would ensue when one person stops talking and it is obviously your turn to say something.
Other such expressions are ‘Well did you ever’, ‘Well there’s a thing’, ‘Really’ (without being interrogative), ‘You don’t say’, ‘Is that so’ ‘Absolutely’ etc etc

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Posted: 07 September 2011 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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reggie - 06 September 2011 12:34 PM

‘Really? Seriously?’ is surely just one of a number of expressions used to prolong a tedious conversation because people in general are too polite just to walk away or too witless to be able to change the subject or are unable to cope with the awkward silence which would ensue when one person stops talking and it is obviously your turn to say something.
Other such expressions are ‘Well did you ever’, ‘Well there’s a thing’, ‘Really’ (without being interrogative), ‘You don’t say’, ‘Is that so’ ‘Absolutely’ etc etc

While that is true, it is also true that “Really?” is, today, sometimes used, with a quizzical/emphatic tone, to mean “I don’t believe you!”, though in my experience (or at least as I remember my experience) only by North Americans.

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Posted: 07 September 2011 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The quizzical “Really?” was also recently in a series of Windows Phone commercials in the U.S.  Why, these phones are so great you’ll use them while at the urinal, while your sex partner is getting dressed for some foreplay, and on and on.  Of course the other person will always say “Really?” The official commercial can be seen on YouTube if you type “windows urinal really” in the search box.

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