Is is this thing on?
May 1, 2012 5:20 AM Subscribe
Why do people say "is is" when they mean "is?"
posted by Infinity_8 to society & culture (72 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm an amateur sociologist and linguist (ok, an actor) who enjoys thinking about why people talk the way they do. About the time that the use of "uptalk" was becoming prevalent? So that people would keep paying attention to you? Because they might think you were asking them a question? I noticed that there was a smaller group of talkers who were also saying "is is" when "is" would have been sufficient. I've asked people about it over the years and many have professed not to have noticed it at all. Others have defended it as proper English. (What it is, is I know that there are proper uses of "is is," but I'm not talking about those.)
I hear it in both professional and non-professional talkers, so I'm preconditioned to doubt that it's a form of hemming and hawing or a replacement for "um." Also, people frequently say it very slowly and solemnly as if they believe they're adding emphasis and sounding sage (while to me it has the opposite effect.)
It seems be becoming more widespread, or at least, I'll be surprised if lots of people hereabouts say they've never heard it.
So the question is, has a proper linguist made a study of this? Is there a term for this? I have my own theory as to why it's done but would like to hear what other people think before I put it out there...if, in fact, anybody's noticed it.