Monday, December 09, 2013

Not so much

I came across that phrase in a NYT article and it surprised me a bit. It strikes me as a colloquialism that the style guide masters would have, if ever, only very recently allowed.

But look at this graph from Google Ngrams.

Maybe it's just that I'm wiped out from work, but I can't think of a way it would be used other than in this sense from the article:

The natural question is how long this situation can last. Fifty years ago a “woman doctor” was a gender-bending phenomenon. Now not so much.

And that sounds distinctly recent to me. The top Google hits support this sense.

There is, however, this, from a 1914 book.

Other examples?


Ocean said...

Other examples?

Women can be gender bending doctors and loving, nurturing home makers.

Men? Not so much.

(Yes, I know, same use as before, but couldn't help it in the spirit of cheerfulness...) :)

bjkeefe said...

Several online forums mention Jon Stewart as the reason we're (now) so looked into this particular sense of the phrase, which certainly strikes me as plausible.

bjkeefe said...

... locked into, I meant.

TC said...

I think there's a difference in meaning that makes Jon's version new. "Not so much" are common words that you can go back and find examples of in old writing. Stewart uses it as we used to say things such as: "Republicans are all reasonable people - NOT !"

"Not" is a common word and I'm sure you can find it in a lot of historic writing. Using it at the end of a statement like that gives it a different twist, though. The meaning is the same, but it implies a contradiction to the preceding statement. Your examples from 1914 don't have that same sense of contradiction. I think "Not so much" works the same way. The fundamental meaning is the same , but used like that it's more a negation of the preceding statement. That's what makes it new. IMHO