Interested in Language
"I know you are but what am I?"
I learned that this pharase can be used when a child is bad-mouthed by another child.
I understand that if someone says "You're stupid", the first half of the phrase means "I know you are (stupid)", but I don't understand the latter part.
What does "What am I"? mean?
(I won't use it myself. I just want to understand the meaning.)
That is simply not true!
The internet is full of rubbish and misleading information.
You are attempting to call me a name. I say that the name applies to you ("I know you are"), and profess ignorance about what you are trying to call me ("but what am I?").
As Dave says, it's a way that children argue.
The person who is called the rude name pretends that they don't understand. They pretend the rude name is for the person who SAYS it, not the person it is said TO.
Child A: You're ugly.
Child B: I know you are, but what am I. == No, YOU are the one who is ugly. I don't know what you think about me.
It's childish to the extreme. An adult would never use this except as a joke, because adults don't go around saying "You're stupid!" to one another.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
I guess they never got Pee Wee Herman in Britain.
None of those mean anything to me so it must be an AmE phrase. I know who Pee Wee Herman is though I don't understand why it's meant to be funny.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.