In my last post puzzling over even ("What does 'even' even mean?", 2/8/2011), I suggested that there's a new even idiom, exemplified in phrases like "How does that even work?" or "What does that even mean?", in which even has become simply an intensifier rather than a scalar focus particle. If this is true, it would be a rebirth of even's pre-16th-century use as (in the OED's gloss) "an intensive or emphatic particle" that can be "prefixed to a subject, object, or predicate, or to the expression of a qualifying circumstance, to emphasize its identity". However, the 94 helpful comments on that post left me wondering whether this is really happening.
So here's another even example that brought me up short — Michael Hinkelman, "Feds unveil 50-count indictment against 'Uncle Joe,' 12 others", Philadelpha Daily News 5/24/2011:
But Joseph C. Santaguida, Ligambi's attorney, said the reputed mob boss, who pleaded not guilty to all charges and has a bail hearing Thursday, claimed that the feds' case was "weak."
Asked if Ligambi, dressed in a white polo shirt and jeans, was the mob boss portrayed by prosecutors, the defense attorney said: "I don't know if [prosecutors] can even prove that. I don't think it's that strong a case."
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