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    #1

    Who's asking? An English thing?

    Hello, there.

    I was in an English corner this morning. An Englishman, who's in his sixties I suppose, said "Who's asking?" to a young man, after being asked where he was from. Then he continued to explain that if he hears this reply during the conversation in England, he will leave the scene, for in English culture this sentence actually shows the speaker is unwilling to continue the conversation.

    Is this necessarily the case? Or perhaps the actual meaning of it depends on the context.

    Many thanks

    Richard

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    #2

    Re: Who's asking? An English thing?

    When someone answers a question with another question, especially one that can be understood as a challenge ("Who's asking?" "Why do you care?" "What's it to you?") it is meant to be a conversation stopper. It means that the responder is not interested in discussing this matter.

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    #3

    Re: Who's asking? An English thing?

    But, of course, "who's asking?" doesn't have to be a conversation stopper. As cubezero rightly guessed, it depends on context. For example:

    "Is Tom home, Mrs. Smith?"
    "No, he's not here. Who's asking?"
    "Jeremy. I have something to tell him."

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    #4

    Re: Who's asking? An English thing?

    Your example is correct, BC, but part of the context here is an "English corner." If it is a street corner somewhere in England, and the meeting is face-to-face, then I would consider the response a conversation stopper. If an "English corner" is some type of chat room or other anonymous or virtual situation, then the response would be considered appropriate.

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