Tag Archives: unexpected

Former Fakelore – American

The following is an instance of former fakelore that then became real folk speech. The informant learned it first from a movie but relates that he later heard it from others who had never seen the movie: “Uh, I find this one very interesting because, ’cause, I know why I started saying it but I don’t know why anybody else did, so . . . so, so, I mean I heard it from a movie—I mean it was a line from a movie that I thought was very funny, um, but then it began to come back, um, from other people who I don’t think ever saw that movie and not people who had, who had heard it from me, so I don’t quite know where it came from, exactly.” The phrase is as follows:

“So THAT happened,” with the emphasis on the “that.”

The phrase is used, according to the informant, “when something has happened that is, uh, just—it could be good, it could be bad, it could be indifferent—but when something has happened that is enormously out of place and not what you expected to have, uh, in your life, or an event you intended to be a part of, or a scene you intended to get involved with, uh, when something, when some specific event has occurred, uh, I hear people say a lot now, ‘So THAT happened.’ And the three words cover everything—whether it was good, whether it was bad, whether it was indifferent, whether it was the most positive thing, the most, the most negative thing—people just say that now. And it’s only been within the past couple of years, which again I find interesting because the first time I ever heard those three words was in a movie that’s now over a decade old.”

The informant says that he finds the phrase amusing: “I find it hysterically funny, um . . . Like I said, I have used it, uh, myself, for a long time, because, uh, for me, it equates into a, ‘Wow, I did not expect this particular piece of my life or this particular event to happen; I never expected to find myself in that scenario.’ And it was totally fucked up, totally screwed up, unexpected, and all I can say is, ‘Well—so THAT happened.”

With a little research, this collector determined that the phrase comes from the movie State and Main (2000) and is said right after the speaker has just crashed a station wagon. Thus, the statement originates as authored literature, not folklore. It could be considered fakelore because the actor is using it as if it is an established bit of slang, which clearly it was not at the time. Nonetheless, the phrase has clearly achieved multiplicity and variation (a simple Google search reveals its use with other punctuation as folklore 2.0, for instance). The informant’s assessment of what the statement means seems correct, but the downward inflection at the end also seems to imply that the speaker wants to be done with the incident and move on.


State and Main. Dir. David Mamet. Perf. Philip Hoffman, William Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Alec Baldwin. Fine Line Features, 2000.