D.D., who previously contributed some observations on Caribbean "What!!??", sends more:
After a general staff meeting concluded this a.m. at work, I was sitting with a few co-workers and for some reason the conversation turned to 'strange critters' that people of different cultures eat. ('Koreans eat dogs'… 'Some Africans & Chinese eat insects'… etc etc.)
Our workplace is currently being painted/renovated by 3 Caribbean men who have been there for a week or so–one of whom I've had a couple of chats & shared a few jokes with in passing. Hearing our conversation, that one man (from St. Vincent) stepped away from his painting on the other side of the conference room and addressed me, "Did you ever eat POSSUM?"
I laughed aloud, wondering if he was serious. He seemed to be, so I asked, "Uh… is it good?" His loud reply, "WHAT!!??" (Read: 'OMG it is friggin' delicious!')
I then told to him that that seemed to me a bit like eating raccoon–which I said I wouldn't want to do because they're scavengers and will eat most any rubbish.
Then the Jamaican man said, "You know if there is a dead human body laying about, a pig will eat it?"
So (knowing that a number of my black co-workers, including Caribbean ones, won't touch pork) I asked him, "Do you like pork?"
His face lit up and he exclaimed, "WHAT!!??"… Then he launched into a rant about all the different kinds of 'dead pig' he enjoys: 'Bacon, ham, and especially a thick, white pork chop…'
As I noted in the earlier post, it's common for exclamations to become enough shifted or specialized from their literal meaning that outsiders easily misinterpret them. One that I've often noticed over the past few years is "Shut up!!", exclaimed with a wide pitch-range fall or fall-rise on up, used to mean something like "Wow!" The drift was especially plain in an exchange that I overheard on the street the other day, where the command to "shut up" was immediately followed by an invitation to say more:
A: …and then *she* said "No thanks!"
B: Shut up!! So what did you do?