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PRONOUNS, RELATIVE AND INTERROGATIVE. What for "why;" "whatever;" "who;" "any"

What hence in elliptical expressions assumes the meaning "any."

“I love thee not a jar of the clock behind
What lady-she (224) her lord.

i.e. "less than any lady whatsoever loves her lord." So

“With promise of his sister and what else.

; Tempest, iii. 1. 72. i.e. "whatever else may be conceived," or "everything else."

"What not" is still used in this sense, as

“He that dares approach
On him, on you, who not? I will maintain
Mine honour firmly.

Like the Latin "qua--qua," so "what--what" is used for "partly--partly," mostly joined to "with." In this collocation perhaps the alliteration of the two w's has had some influence: for what is not thus used except before "with."

“And such a flood of greatness fell on you
What with our help, what with the absent king,
What with the injuries of a wanton time.

So Tr. and Cr. v. 1. 103.

Originally this may have been "considering what accrued from our help, what from the king's absence," &c. but "what" is used by Spenser in the sense of "part," "her little what." (See p. 5.)

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