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“Please?” to Mean “Excuse Me?”

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Susan, a librarian in Grant County, Kentucky, says her spouse, who is from the Cincinnati area, uses the expression Please? to mean “How’s that?” or “Come again?” or “Excuse me?” to get someone to repeat a statement. This dialectal feature is largely associated with Cincinnati and other areas heavily settled by German immigrants. It’s what linguists call a calque, or loan translation, from German, where the word Bitte, or “please,” is used in exactly the same way. This is part of a complete episode.

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