Monday, April 24, 2006

Piss Me Off: Double Copula

I just noticed that my blog doesn't have any lists of things that piss me off. I can't really call myself a blogger without such material. So, for all you people out there who have been thinking, "If only I could make Jesse angry..." I've started this feature called Piss Me Off. And, because I'm an English teacher, it makes sense that my first Piss Me Off is linguistic in nature.

The Double Copula (AKA The Double "Is")

I don't mind teaching my students a few non-words here and there. Bling. Crunk. Blogosphere. Idiotic as these words are, I give them a fair shake. If I am asked about such words, I answer objectively and without any (visible) disdain. Such is my attitude toward the inevitable corruption and re-corruption of English; it's not pretty, but what can you do?

There is one alarming trend, however, that I will not allow to overtake the English language without a fight. It is the "double copula," whereby one uses two successive "be" verbs where only one is necessary.

As if "the thing is" wasn't already the dumbest possible way to begin a sentence, somebody went that extra mile to make it even dumber. Somewhere in the recent evolution of American English, it was decided that "the thing is" should be treated, not as a subject and verb (which it is), but just as a subject (which it is not). After deciding that "the thing is" can be classified as a noun, it became necessary to add another "is" after it when forming a sentence.

Correct: "The thing is that I'm allergic to mustard."

Incorrect: "The thing is, is that I'm allergic to mustard."

What the Christ?: "The thing is, was that I was allergic to mustard when I was a kid."

Don't ask me why people talk like this. It's ridiculous, both by virtue of the nature of the error and the amazing rate at which it happens. I even hear radio and TV personalities whose job is to speak English making this error.

The double copula is a symptom of the very same stupidity that will ultimately end humanity forever. If you start sentences with "the thing is, is," then the thing is, is, is, is, you are dead to me.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Funny enough, you mentioned this to me once. And now every single damn time I hear it in conversation, I still think of you. And I shake my head and laugh, because you're so right.

And now I'm annoyed by it, which is annoying, because I'm one of those people who is already annoyed by enough things in life...

Oh well, at least I think of you often and smile. (that sounds kinda stalker-esque. I promise that it's not.)