Is the sentence "How is <name>" localised to game-specific forums?

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I keep seeing people say "How is X", where X is the name of a game or a band. I think the implied question is about the entertainment quality of the thing in question, e.g. "Do you find this game fun?", "Are X a good band in your opinion?", "What do you dislike about X?".

Most of the time sentences of this form don't even parse in my head, especially when the name of the game is a character's name them I'm especially confused. e.g. "How is Batman?". (Well, when a mummy and daddy love each other very much...)

I've mainly seen this usage on reddit. The main place I see it is in the gaming related threads, but I don't know if it's localised to either of those two things.

Is this common usage in some part of the world or is it localised to the game playing community on a certain internet forum? Does anyone know how long has it been going on for? Do and of you personally use this form?

Some reddit links hastily obtained via google:

Pod

Posted 2014-07-26T20:32:20.253

Reputation: 158

“How’s his hamburger, Hubert?” ~ “How’s Horatio, Henrietta?” – tchrist – 2014-07-26T20:35:37.633

1... or even "How are you?" – Scott – 2014-07-26T20:51:25.437

@tchrist, I've never heard "How’s his hamburger, Hubert?". It doesn't even make sense to me. "How’s your hamburger, Hubert?", does. (As does "How are you (doing)?", @Scott). I understand "How is Herbert's hamburger?" - do those things mean the same to you? – None – 2014-07-26T21:03:26.807

@Scott, just to be specific, are you saying that "How are you?" and "How are Mastodon live?" are the same thing? To me, "How is the car" is asking about the car's state of "health", rather than "is the car a good car to drive?". So the question about Mastodon is basically asking, to me, if Mastodon are in good health. Hence why I don't understand it. – None – 2014-07-26T21:12:05.137

3I don't understand how someone with your command of English can ask such an inane question. These are obviously people asking others for their impressions and comparing notes. "How's so-and-so in concert?" "How's so-and-so live?" "How's such-and-such a game?" I don't get your question. – CocoPop – 2014-07-27T01:27:49.230

2Pod, how, like many words, has multiple shades of meaning. One of them is for asking about the quality of something. ("How was your lunch?") How long have people been using how like this? I don't know, but I would bet it goes back many hundreds of years to the beginnings of English. So you might as well get used to it. – Dangph – 2014-07-27T02:33:56.963

Answers

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I am surprised that you, a native speaker of English, find this use of How is/was X? odd or novel. I have heard it all my life:

How's your sandwich?
How was school today?
How's the new Stones album?
How's college?

And a little Google-booking carries it back to at least the early 19th century, in a very colloquial novel of manners:

How was the Opera that night? We will give the account of it which appeared in the paper of the following day. —Charles White, Almack’s: A Novel, 1827, p. 146

“Pray, how is the tea tonight?” —ibid., p 179

It seems to me this is a standard form for a question inviting a description or assessment. Extending it to new video games is obviously a recent development, but it's hardly novel or localised.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2014-07-26T20:32:20.253

Reputation: 176 469

1To be fair to OP, I would say your two citations are atypical for their time. I didn't find any comparable usages in C19 Google Books for how is/was school/life/London/dinner etc. But yes - you'd think anyone born since 1900 would be perfectly familiar with "How is X?" meaning "What do you think of X" (rather than the "original" sense of "Is X well?"). A distinction in meaning which in the case of my rephrasing would be expressed by the alternative "Is X good?" – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-07-27T13:36:50.177

@FumbleFingers I found four or five before about 1890, and from then on it was so common as to be unremarkable. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-07-27T13:50:50.180

Yeah - "turn of the century" was my guess for when it really took off. To us now both usages are so familiar we tend not to even notice the difference, but I wouldn't mind betting the later sense seemed somewhat "exotic" to many during what appears to have been a relatively long incubation period. I suspect the linguistic intermingling occasioned by war (WW1 in this case) might have been a significant factor it its becoming more widespread. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2014-07-27T14:05:33.873

@FumbleFingers My own take would be that what we're seeing is a 'literariness' artefact: that the old 'manners' tradition of colloquialism in dialogue fell out of favour around the beginning of Victoria's reign and did not return until the end of it. Many of the examples I found were from transcripts of hearings. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-07-27T14:29:07.483

1@StoneyB Fumblefingers I think you've missed the OP's linguistic point. You cant say How is Paris? to mean What is Paris like?, or How is having one's teeth extracted? to mean What is it like having one's teeth extracted? - although you can use those phrases to mean what is your personal experience of X like for you at the moment. How's your school? is not asking about how many pupils, classrooms, A-level passes etc you school has. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2014-07-28T05:51:22.863

@Araucaria In the right context, sure you can, and people do. "That other school sends 80% of its graduates to college. How's yours?" "You had your wisdom teeth out - how was it?" "Did you get the new Mario? How is it?" And it's been around since the early 19th century. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-07-28T11:51:57.780

1Sure you can, if you've just introduced it (mine was good how's yours etc). Also, not disputing that you can use it for personal experience. That's the 'right context'. Without this though it's problematic. If you've never been there I can't say How's Cambridge University to you as a substitute for What's Cambridge University like?. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2014-07-28T13:12:21.343

2@Araucaria As I said, it "invites a description or assessment", which may be a report of your subjective experience but may also be a report of your objective knowledge. "Hmm...tech's sagging this morning. Joyce, how's aerospace?" Keeping this on-topic, I don't see the uses OP cites as either unusual or novel. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-07-28T13:35:40.893