Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 13:28:46 -0400
From: Bryan Gick bgick[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SAPIR.LING.YALE.EDU
Subject: "is is" (formerly "as best as")
The recent thread on "as best as" reminds me of something pointed out to
me by my mother. She's been noticing, to her continual annoyance, that
seemingly respectable and well-educated TV newsfolk and politicians have
taken to saying "is" twice in some constructions, like:
"The problem is is there are too many sheepdogs on the board of directors."
This has the same intonation as -- and is presumbably an analogy from --
constructions like: "What the problem is is..."
Anybody heard this?
What the reason the "as best as" thing reminded me of this is is (whew)
that I suspect "as best as" is similarly based on analogy from "to do x as
best one can/could/etc." (without the second "as"). This sounds a bit
archaic to me and wasn't in my native dialect of NW PA, but I have heard
it often in other dialects. Much more common, of course, is the "as...as"
comparative construction, and hence, presumably, the analogy.
On Thu, 17 Jul 1997, Duane Campbell wrote:
Watching the Senate Finance Committee hearings just now (I don't have
much of a life), an attorney asked, "As best as you can remember . . ."
It seems to me that in the last few years this phrase has almost
completely replaced "as well as", even among well educated speakers. It
grates on my ears. Am I wrong to think that this is grammatically
incorrect, that you cannot compare a superlative? Is it language
inflation? Or am I just being picky?