04 Mai 2008

Dragnet's English

An unintended benefit derived from watching old television shows is the opportunity to observe how our language changes over time, in both dramatic and subtle ways. Here are some phrases one frequently hears on the 1950s version of Dragnet. Most or all of these expressions or turns of phrase , I daresay, would still be intelligible to us today, but few if any of us still utilize them:

"How about it?" (meaning, "Tell us," or "Spill the beans.")
"Is that so?" (one of Friday's particular favorites, usually tinged with sarcasm)
"Suppose you tell me." (frequently used in response to a rhetorical statement or question)
"What's the pitch?" (meaning, "What do you mean?" or "What are you driving at?")
"Are you trying to give me the treatment?" (i.e., third degree)
"We made out." (we did all right, it was OK)
"Yes ma'am."
"I wouldn't know about that, ma'am." (used whenever someone raised a delicate or discomfiting personal matter)