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He asked me what I expected.


I know the sentence above is ambiguous:semantically, it could be either
He asked me the thing that I expected.


or
He asked me, 'What do you expect?'
.

And I also know that the context is the determinant.

My question is, again, what do you think the 'feel' of such 'what' is? What would come up to your mind when you hear such 'what' at first, without context?
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Hello Taka

I would hear it as #2: 'He asked me, What do you expect?'

(For the sense of #1, I would have expected: 'He asked me what I expected him to'.)

I'd be interested to hear what others think, though!

MrP
Thank you, MrP. But that is not my question. I'm interested in the 'psychology' of 'what', not of the entire sentence. What kind of image do you have when you hear such 'what'?
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Hi Taka,
I would have answered the same way Mr. P. just did. I'm not sure what you are looking for?

If I try to stretch my interpretation of these few words a fair bit more, I might think 'he' has just been told that he disappointed me in some way, and now he is asking me 'in what way?'

Or another view might be that 'he' has just been told that he disappointed me in some way, and now he is trying to justify what he just did or said.

Is this the kind of thing you are asking about? Maybe not.

Best wishes,
Clive
OK, let me explain what I'm asking. For example, when you hear 'to', you may have some sort of image---say, 'the core image'--- that it means 'in the direction of...', whether it's 'to go' or 'to you'. Now, I'm just interested in the core image of the word 'what' . What does the word 'what' bring to your mind?
I'm not sure whether there is any particular psychological feeling associated with "what". It is an interrogative.

There are emotive words, which may engender different feelings in certain people, but I really don't think "what" is one of them, Taka.

The only "core image" I have of the word "what" is that a question may follow it.
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Yes; when you try to think about 'what', it's suddenly empty: a flushed variable.

It has a function, but not necessarily a meaning.

MrP
No image? Really?

Hmm...I thought it was 'something unknown' or something.

MrP, what do you mean by 'a flushed variable'?
Hello Taka

I was thinking of 'variable' in this sense (from Wikipedia):

'In mathematics, a variable often represents an unknown quantity; in computer science, it represents a place where a quantity can be stored. Variables are often contrasted with constants, which are known and unchanging.'

To 'flush' a variable is to empty it of data.

(I'm not sure that makes it clearer!)

MrP
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