Chris Olson - SunPS Chrisf.Olson at Sun.COM
Mon Mar 3 13:09:27 PST 2003

Ryan Grove wondered:
> Ever since I was a wee lad, I've wondered exactly what a shrug is. Is it 
> the raising of one's shoulders and, perhaps, the accompanying 
> downward-turned mouth and raised eyebrows? Or is it something else 
> entirely? Could the verb "to shrug" be completely ambiguous, and perhaps 
> refer to some unseen state of mind rather than a visible action?
<snippity snip>
> This leads me to believe that the standard definition of "shrug" is a 
> visible, physical raising of the shoulders, and this brings me to my 
> next question, which is: who shrugs?
> I don't think I've ever shrugged in my life, except maybe when I was a 
> shy little kid and strange adults asked me how old I was. I can't 
> remember the last time I saw someone else shrug.
<more snippage>
> So the question that has been keeping me up at night is: what, exactly, 
> is a shrug as Steven Brust defines it, and under what circumstances is 
> it appropriate?

Well, I know I shrug (that is, I raise my shoulders slightly).

To me, it's an action that could mean many things, depending on
the circumstances.  Usualy it indicates something akin to "don't
care" or "oh well."

As for using it during anger; yeah, I can see it.  It indicates, to
me, a sense of "I'm leaving this one alone."  I've noticed when I
get angry, it's usualy an instant reaction to something that has
given rise to a negative feeling.  However, on quick reflection, I
find I don't have as much of a right to be as angry as I am, and with
that, I let it go and not bother me.  Hence, I "shrug" it off and give
it the old "oh well."

But, that's just me.  Your horse may take you further.