# 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?

Originally Posted by TheParser
***** 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
"The pragmatic inanity of the mentality driving this is self-evident: as I discussed yesterday (and many other times), continuous killing does not eliminate violence aimed at the US but rather guarantees its permanent expansion. As a result, wrote Miller, "officials said no clear end is in sight" when it comes to the war against "terrorists" because, said one official, "we can't possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us" but trying is "a necessary part of what we do". Of course, the more the US kills and kills and kills, the more people there are who "want to harm us". That's the logic that has resulted in a permanent war on terror."

More:
Siamese twins of the 'war on terror': 20 more years whether Obama or Romney wins

Dear James, can we say that the underlined part is clause chaining?

9. ## Re: How to understand them?

Originally Posted by Odessa Dawn

Dear James, can we say that the underlined part is clause chaining?

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

Great question.

I do not know the answer.

I shall not be able to sleep until I know the answer.

Hopefully, someone will answer us -- so that I can get some sleep.

James

10. ## Re: How to understand them?

Originally Posted by Odessa Dawn
Of course, the more the US kills and kills and kills, the more people there are who "want to harm us".

Dear James, can we say that the underlined part is clause chaining?
***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello,

Thanks to Google books, I think that I shall be able to get some sleep tonight!

Apparently, at least one term for such an expression is verbal reduplication.

*****

Here are three references that I found:

1. The Scene of Linguistic Action by Rene Dirven.

a. An example of "repetition of the verb" is "I'm talking, talking, talking all the time."

[My note: As you know, a comma often is a substitute for the word "and." So maybe that sentence

means "I'm talking and talking and talking all the time."]

2. Marathi by R. Pandharipande. Marathi is a language spoken by 8% of the people in India.

a. The author calls this sentence an example of "verbal reduplication":

ti bol bol bolli = She talk talk talked. = She talked a lot.

3. The Handbook of Language Contact was edited by Raymond Hickey.

a. He says that in Singlish [a form of English spoken in Singapore], they have this sentence:

We all eat - eat - eat = keep eating/ eat a lot.

*****

So I guess that we could say/ write:

Country X kills and killls and kills.

Country X kills, kills, kills.

*****

I learned something new about English -- thanks to your question and Google. Now I can turn off my

computer for the day.

James

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