On my last visit to Vancouver, from which I have just returned only days ago, I was struck by the re-invention of the term “really” in the English language. I suspect that this is North America-wide and not just a Vancouver or Canadian thing as evidenced by a friend who visited from the nearby hamlet of Bellingham, Washington and uttered the expression in the title of this blog post over and over again.
“Really?” used to mean just that.
“I just bought a Ferrari” you would say.
“Really?” would be the incredulous or envious reply, depending on the self-esteem of the person you were conversing with.
If I were to describe the word ‘really?’ (as a question) as a wine it might be something like this: Questioning; with elements of sarcasm, disbelief and subtle undertones of disgust or pena ajena.
An example would be the following:
You are dying to get to a bathroom and simply cannot wait any longer. You stop between two cars in the parking lot to relieve yourself and your buddy, who had walked on ahead, walks back, sees what you are doing and says, with a pained look on his face “Dude. Really?”
I suppose a Spanish equivalent is being used as you read this, but I don’t know what it is. Perhaps “En serio, guey?” would be appropriate?