Date: Sat, 26 Jul 1997 12:15:30 -0400

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Re: "is is"

In every case where 'is' is the 'extra is' (i.e., 'pleanastic' one), I find

that it would be very reasonable to assign it to COMP. Note that in this

sense it is not so far off from the '-s' of 'All's I know...' construction

where the '-s' rather obviously derives from an older COMP (i.e., 'as')

which not only competed with 'that' in the history of English but won out

in some varieties. 'I know as he's going' = 'I know that he's going'.

As further support, I also suspect that this pleonastic 'is' does not occur

with an overt COMP:

What we decided to do is is we would ignore John.


?What we decided to do is is that we would ignore John.

But I'm not so sure. I may be a semi-speaker of this variety and my

judgment of the questionable sentnece I cite above may be no good. What

about pleonastic 'is' as COMP?


As I recall, this construction has been discussed here before. What my

memory also is is that several years ago in AMERICAN SPEECH someone (Jim

Hartman?) published something on how this pleonastic (?) IS may have evolved

from the long-grammatical "is is" of cleft sentences (e.g., in the opening

words of this sentence).

Can anyone help us out with a bibliography of this putatively new


Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


Office: (517)432-1235

Fax: (517)432-2736