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
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu