and what's playing but the song from my wedding

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
Here's a quote from a movie called Silver Linings Playbook:
Pat: I come home and what's playing but the song from my wedding. The song that you so charmingly played out here today for us. That's playing and I don't think anything of it. Which is odd, cause I should have. I come home, what do I see?
Is there a common usage of 'what' as in the quote?
It seems to me that the boldfaced portion essentially means "I come home and nothing's playing but the song from my wedding."
Is my understanding right? If so, is this a type of rhetorical question?
And shouldn't the punctuation be the question mark rather than the period "I come home and what's playing but the song from my wedding?"
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    In this case, it's an expression of surprise: I came home and can you believe that the song from my wedding was playing? (What a surprise.)

    I went into Junior's room and what's he doing but playing video games when he should be studying. (Again, there's that "Can you believe what he was doing?" aspect to it.) It's a common form in American English.

    Rhetorical questions don't require a question mark, although sometimes they're used.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks, Copyright.
    I just noticed a similar phrase following the above quote:
    Pat: I come home, what do I see?
    [we see as the staircase at Pat's house which has clothing scattered on it]
    Pat: I see...I walk in the door and I see underwear and pieces of clothing and a guy's pants with his belt in it, and...
    Here it seems like he's asking a question and then answering it all by himself.
    Can you change this like the above quote as the following?
    Pat: I come home, what do I see but underwear and pieces of clothing and a guy's pants with his belt in it, and...
     
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