Sibilant backlog…

Maybe because I’m attuned to it, sort of like buying a pair of pink drainpipes and suddenly noticing everyone else who’s wearing some, I hear a lot of multiple “is”es. That is, people repeating the word “is” in sentences. Look/listen out for it – “The thing is is”, “The point is is”, “The point being is” etc. As an often reluctant pedant, it’s one of those things that I notice but would feel uncomfortable bringing to anyone’s attention.

My theory is is is that the words “thing is” are being run together, to form a de facto noun on their own. So the sentence feels like it lacks a verb. Which is is is is why people add another “is”. Where you have a clear emphasis on “thing” instead of “is”, for example in the sentence “the important thing is that you buy pink drainpipes” it’s a lot harder to justify putting in the extra “is”.

What if I’m wrong though? Sometimes I will sneak a third “is” into a sentence of my own, just to see what happens. When it gets through undetected, I worry that I’ve worn down human resistance to “is” multiplication, that the third “is” is an out of control mutation, and soon we will all be unable to say “The thing is” without appending forty or a hundred “is”es to the end, and everybody will be buzzing around like demented bees finishing off a sibilant backlog. Could happen.

Horrors. I found a post which goes into such depth that even I had to look away in shame.

By the way, I don’t have pink drainpipes.

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One thought on “Sibilant backlog…

  1. I have noticed this too, predominantly surrounding the phrase “The thing is, is…”. My way of dealing with it is, is to interrupt the speaker loudly with “No! The thing is!”. WHich of course isn’t very satisfactory because then you really need to follow it up with what the thing is, otherwise people get annoyed that you’ve interrupted them.

    I am going to a meeting this morning where I am expecting this to happen. I might take some notes.

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