Br.Eng: what?

Giganews Newsgroups
Subject: Br.Eng: what?
Posted by:  CRNG (noema…@atthisdomain.gov)
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2017

My memory is a bit hazy on this, but it seems that I have read several
books in which the word "what?" is appended at the end of a sentence.
To an Am.Eng speaker it seems out of place and doesn't make any sense.
What?

Most of the What? usage seems to be in settings prior to the
mid-1900s. Is that the case? Is it still used? What is or was the
purpose of it's use?  Emphasis?

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