He pursed his lips, and in a moment continued, “I’ll tell her. You tell him. Bring him in in three minutes.” — Rex Stout (Before Midnight)
I ran across that this morning in rereading an old favorite novel.
A couple of days ago, I read someone’s post that went something like “You can tell that that sort of politician is lying when his lips move.
And Andy Griffith became famous recording “What it was was football”.
It’s more confusing in print than it is orally. My question is “is there a term for this kind of repeated word usage”?
The “is is” form has been called “the reduplicative copula” (see http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=4269).
In the sentence “My question is ‘is there such a term?’.”, the repeated ‘is’ is grammatically legitimate. Likewise “What it is is football”. But what your article names the “reduplicative copula” is a mistake that in spoken English has become so common within the last decade or two that now I think I hear it more often than not. You all know what I mean, right?
“The thing is is that we should do the movie first.”
It originally came from a thoughtful pause. “The thing is…. [the speaker stops to think, then takes up the sentence again] ….is that we should do the movie first.” But I hear it all the time now in sentences with no pause; and I’m convinced that most people are completely unaware of doing it. I try not to let things drive me crazy, but this one gives me trouble.
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