Hey, What about me? -- へい!俺って、どうしたの?

What About Me? is the name of Anne Murray's first album, back from the mid 1960s.

The title track, written by Scott McKenzie (Philip Wallach Blondheim) is sometimes listed as "Hey! What About Me?"

It came up a couple of nights back in a company class I'm teaching. One of the students wanted help understanding the difference between "What about ...?" and "How about ...?"
先日のビジネス英会話のクラスにこの曲が出てきたのです。その参加者の一人は "What about ...?" と "How about ...?" の違いの説明を聞きたかったようです。

Well, she actually understood the difference, but a friend of hers had used one where she would have expected the other.

Yeah, it happens a lot. People don't use language by the rules in the real world, but that's a rant for some other time.

In this post, I'm going to try to give some examples to show which we use where.

The lyrics to the song are one good example:
Hey, what about me?
I've got some feelings on my mind, too.
Hey, what about me?
I'd like to have a song to sing to.
Translated to a female singer's point of view (maybe) in Japanese:
Hmm, maybe I shouldn't pretend to read Ms. Murray's mind.

Contrast this to "How About Me?", an Irving Berlin (Israel Isidore Beilin) tune sung by Ella Fitzgerald, among others:
It's over, all over,
and soon somebody else
will make a fuss about you,
but how about me?
Let's try a crude translation of this, as well:
While "What about me? would work in this phrase, there is a difference.
この歌詞では "What about me?" でもいけたかも知りませんが、意味がちょっと違います。

We can imagine Anne Murray standing up, waving her arms and singing, "Attention, please! I want a song, too!" And we can imagine Ella singing, "I have your attention now, please say good things about me one more time."

"What about me?" is a request for attention. "How about me?" is a request for continued attention.
"What about me?" とは、注目の要求です。 "How about me?" とは、既にこちらへ向けて見て頂いているのに、意見の要求です。

"What about me?" is a request for selection. "How about me?" is a request for evaluation.
"What about me?" とは、選択の要求です。 "How about me?" とは、評価の要求です。

Examples, examples. The Rakuten Golden Eagles won their league today. One could say,
How about those Golden Eagles?
Aren't they playing good baseball?
To which, another could say,
What about the Tigers?
They're still in the race for the penant, aren't they?
In the first case, Rakuten is somewhat of a topic for the day. "How about...?" asserts an evaluation.
前方の発言では楽天は既に今日の話題の一つです。 "How about ...?" はここで評価を記しているのです。

In the second case, the topic is being switched (back?) to Hanshin. "What about ...?" asserts a selection.
後方の発言は話題を阪神に切り替えています。(戻しているかも知りません。) "What about ...?" は選択を指摘しています。

What else?

Say I visit your house.
You: How about a cup of tea?

Me: No thanks. But I wouldn't mind some water, please.

You: Water? How about orange juice?

Me: I hate to be picky, but is it 100 percent? I can't drink refined sugars.

You: Sugar? What about the fruit sugars in 100 percent juice?

Me: They are closer to the natural state, and I can drink a little.
You: お茶いかがですか?

Me: 申し訳ありませんが、水にしていただけませんでしょう?

You: 水ですか?オレンジジュースならどうですか?

Me: 注文の多い人になりたくないのですが、百パーセントですか?生成された糖分はいただけないのです。
You: 糖分ですか?百パーセントなら果糖がありますが、それはどうですか?問題ありません?

Me: 自然のままに近いので少しは飲めます。
In the first case, you are making a suggestion and asking for a response. In the second, you are pointing something out and asking for a response.

One more example. Let's go to a clothing store, maybe a boutique, looking for sweaters.
Salesperson: I think you would look good in this style of sweater. What do you think?(似合うと思いますが)

You: No thanks, I don't want a high neck.(首はきつすぎる)

Salesperson: Okay, we have a similar construction in a V-neck style. How is this one?(似た作りのVネック)

You: Well, I don't care for hot pink.(激ピンクは趣味じゃない)

Salesperson: How about aquamarine?(海の色は?)

You: Great! It's perfect! But what about the price? I see it's marked at 20,000 yen.(価格はなにか出来ません?)

Salesperson: Make me an offer.(どれぐらい考えていますか?)

You: How about 5,000 yen?

Salesperson: Well, make me a serious offer.(真面目に考えていただけません?)

You: 10,000 yen?

Salesperson: Maybe. Let me ask my manager.(マネージャーのほうに確認させていただきます。)
Okay, this is all I have time for today. Just remember, these are not hard set rules. In many cases either one could be used.