0

I'd seen "why you" in a couple of translations, so at first I thought it was just an odd error. Then I heard it in Batman Arkham Asylum, where an inmate said it when Aaron Cash refused to tell him what he wanted to know. From the way it's used, it apparently conveys frustration or something, usually in response to someone who is stubborn and keeps annoying you, probably something like "Why do you keep doing this!? Stop it already!".

Is it a valid sentence people actually use? Or is it just "why you...", in other words just an unfinished sentence? If that's the case, where's the expected auxiliary (are/do)? I have no idea where even to begin to find out more about this; Google search has returned nothing but pathetic irrelevant results.

  • The most recent one I've seen in written form uses an exclam. mark. The Batman Arkham one just goes with an ellipsis. I don't remember much about the other ones. – Vun-Hugh Vaw Dec 17 '17 at 18:40
  • Short answer: in English, Why me? Why them? etc. is very common in speech and presupposes an existing situation where something has happened. Otherwise: Why you ...[ass, idiot, dumb ass, etc. ad nauseum] – Lambie Dec 17 '17 at 18:49
0

Certainly it’s a valid utterance, if that’s the question here. Not all utterances comprise a subject and finite verb.

Classic comic-book style contexts would be “Why you bastard!” or “Why you dirty rat!”. They mean something like “Oh my what a terrible person you are!”. When they just say “Why you!”, they’ve left off whatever pejorative word they were thinking of for the person.

These aren’t always prefixed by Why, and they don’t have to be completely nasty. There are even affectionate uses.

  • You beautiful soul, you!

  • Why you silly goose, you!

1

I would interpret this as an incomplete version of an angry exclamation of the form “Why you (rat/some other derogatory noun phrase)!” There is no understood verb, at least not as far as I know. The use of “Why” here is similar to the use of “how” with an adjective to form exclamations, like “How annoying!”

It sounds a bit more natural to me with the noun than without it, but the form with ellipsis and only an implied noun may be preferred in some media contexts because it avoids the use of strong language. Maybe compare the use of “Curses!” as a stereotypical villainous curse.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.