# Thread: How to understand them?

1. ## How to understand them?

Someone said someone else once wrote or said:

A government is a government is a government.
and
A crime is a crime is a crime.

Grammatically, how to interpret them?

Thanks a lot.

2. ## Re: How to understand them?

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Wow! What a cool (!!!) question!

1. I was able to find a scholarly book on the Web. The author even draws a diagram to explain it, but it was too difficult for

me to understand.

2. He says that such sentences are an example of clause chaining.

3. He discusses "A lie is a lie is a lie."

a. He says that the noun phrase ("a lie") functions simultaneously [at the same time] as the predicate

nominative in one clause and as the subject of the following clause.

i. I guess that he means the second "a lie" is the subjective complement of the first "a lie" and is also the subject to which

the third "a lie" refers.

b. The scholar writes: "I would say that the clausal repetition renders the expression emphatic."

4. You can read his analysis by going to Google and typing in these words:

Grammar and Conceptualization page 168 a lie is a lie

*****

This 1999 book was written by Dr. Ronald W. Langacker.

Thanks a million for the question. I learned the term "clause chaining" today -- thanks to you and Dr. Langacker.

James

3. ## Re: How to understand them?

A crime is a crime is a crime. is supposed to be Crime is crime is crime., according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher. Accordingly, we may also say

Government is government is government.
and
Lie is lie is lie.
specially in spoken expression without indefinite article.

4. ## Re: How to understand them?

Originally Posted by coolfool
A crime is a crime is a crime. is supposed to be Crime is crime is crime., according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher. Accordingly, we may also say

Government is government is government.
and
Lie is lie is lie.
specially in spoken expression without indefinite article.
There is no reason why we should not say 'a crime is a crime is a crime'. 'Lie is lie is lie' is not possible; 'lie, is countable.

5. ## Re: How to understand them?

1. So are the crime in A crime is a crime is a crime. and the government in A government is a government is a government. Both are countable here, too, like the lie in A lie is a lie is a lie.

2. I wrote "... we may also say...". It doesn't exclude either.

3. What I was told was Thatcher once said "A crime is a crime is a crime." It turns out to be "Crime is crime is crime."

6. ## Re: How to understand them?

They're variations on a line from a Gertrude Stein poem: A rose is a rose is a rose A rose is a rose is a rose

7. ## Re: How to understand them?

Originally Posted by coolfool

3. What I was told was Thatcher once said "A crime is a crime is a crime." It turns out to be "Crime is crime is crime."

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello,

I personally feel that there is a difference.

1. Suppose a man steals a donut, and the court wants to send the man to prison for a year. Someone might say that stealing a donut is not really a crime. And the judge might answer: A crime is a crime is a crime. (Stealing a donut is a crime just as stealing a diamond ring is a crime. The amount of money makes no difference.)

2. On the other hand, I can understand why Lady Thatcher said what she is reported to have said. I believe that you have to understand the situation in the United Kingdom at the time. Some people (I have read) felt that there was too much lawlessness. So Lady Thatcher would not have been referring to one single crime (such as stealing a donut) but to the overall general climate. At that time, here in the United States, many people were also calling for more "law and order."

James

8. ## Re: How to understand them?

(not a teacher)

Sentences like these remind you of the limits of written language. The stresses and emphases of speech lend another dimension of meaning to a word, phrase, or sentence.

9. ## Re: How to understand them?

Originally Posted by TheParser
***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello,

I personally feel that there is a difference.

1. Suppose a man steals a donut, and the court wants to send the man to prison for a year. Someone might say that stealing a donut is not really a crime. And the judge might answer: A crime is a crime is a crime. (Stealing a donut is a crime just as stealing a diamond ring is a crime. The amount of money makes no difference.)

2. On the other hand, I can understand why Lady Thatcher said what she is reported to have said. I believe that you have to understand the situation in the United Kingdom at the time. Some people (I have read) felt that there was too much lawlessness. So Lady Thatcher would not have been referring to one single crime (such as stealing a donut) but to the overall general climate. At that time, here in the United States, many people were also calling for more "law and order."

James
I'm afraid the actual meaning of the patten under discussion lies more often than not at the following sentence, nowadays, besides the overall general climate or context. What Thatcher actually said, for instance, is "Crime is crime is crime; it is not political."

10. ## Re: How to understand them?

Originally Posted by SlickVic9000
(not a teacher)

Sentences like these remind you of the limits of written language. The stresses and emphases of speech lend another dimension of meaning to a word, phrase, or sentence.

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