I have for some time been interested in the development of whatever into a standalone comment (OED: “Usually as a response, suggesting the speaker’s reluctance to engage or argue, and hence often implying passive acceptance or tacit acquiescence; also used more pointedly to express indifference, indecision, impatience, scepticism, etc.”), and now Mark Liberman at Language Log has satisfied my curiosity with a post on the subject. It turns out to be attested as far back as the early ’70s (first OED cite: “1973 To our Returned Prisoners of War (U.S. Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs) 10 Whatever, equivalent to ‘that’s what I meant’. Usually implies boredom with topic or lack of concern for a precise definition of meaning.”), and it’s now frequently reduced to “wev”:
Is it boring to listen to my stream-of-consciousness? It must be, or I would have more readers! However, this blog is fun, regardless, so wev.
(Gotta love that paranoid chipmunk…except that it’s really a prairie dog, but wev.)
Just my opinion though mind you, so wev.
HAH. ok wev…moving on.
I would have thought this was a purely graphic abbreviation, but apparently it’s spoken as well. Just one more proof that I’m hopelessly out of it. Wev.