As you turn it off

A few days after I got done [saying]( that _as_ used in the “speech act” sense was nearly impossible, though not uncommon in play-by-play commentary, I encountered an example.

For narrative purposes, what actually happened has been altered, but the basic situation is identical. I was finishing up checking my email before heading off to, and just as I tell my computer to shut down, someone asks me to check a website for them. They ask this while _not_ looking at what I am doing, and only after they barely finish making the request, they see that the computer is shutting down. What they said:

> Do you think you could check [such and such website] for me…as you turn off the computer.

The completion of the utterance is meant to be taken humorously (and was also so-intoned). And, I think, there are two distinct readings. One, which is not what I understood when I received the utterance, has the _as…_ as a temporal modifier of _check_, i.e., “could you check the website while you turn off the computer?” The other reading has the _as_ attaching “high,” modifying the speech act: “could you check the website…and I ask(ed) you this while you turn off the computer.”

Maybe you can now imagine more scenarios like this. For example, me and Jo are talking to each other, and suddenly realize that we have a joint question to ask of Logan, who is making preparations to exit whatever common room we’re all in. I call over, “Hey, Logan!” just as he exits the room (wearing in-ear buds, so he’s oblivious), and then I continue (to Jo), “as he just up and leaves.”

With any luck I’ll hear several more over the next week.

1 Comment so far

  1. The Ridger on August 14th, 2008

    I’m pretty sure I’ve even used it like this.