Date: Fri, 25 Jul 1997 11:54:02 -0700


Subject: Re: "is is" (formerly "as best as")

I'm with Bryan's mother. I've been hearing "the 'is' stutter" for a long

time now, and it bothers me, too. I once even heard someone, I think on

the radio, say, "The thing of it is is, is that (there are too many

sheepdogs, or whatever)." Here at Linfield we have a computer director

who will string together five or so "is's" before he quits spinning his

wheels and resumes the sentence.

The first such construction I ever heard was from a friend in a place

where I formerly lived, who was wont to say, "The point being is..."

Obviously he had reanalyzed "being" into a modifier of "point" and thus

still needed a verb. Something of the sort must be happening with the "is

is" utterances, though it seems less clear why.

I, too, have always figured that "as best as" was a conflation of "as

best (you can)" with "as well as (you can)."


On Fri, 25 Jul 1997, Bryan Gick wrote:

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 ""

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?