on behalf of a researcher

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Feb 23 16:01:59 UTC 2006

On the Monty Python retrospective series' Graham chapman episode
(yesterday in Boston), one of the Pythons says "It is what it
is".  Sorry, I don't remember the skit--perhaps it was the "Dead Parrot".


At 2/19/2006 11:30 PM, you wrote:
>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
>Subject:      Re: on behalf of a researcher
>         I think this 1843 use is most likely derived from Exodus ("I am
>that I am") and is unrelated to "It is what it is," unless the latter is
>also influenced by Exodus.
>         Incidentally, I do sometimes say "It is what it is."  Contrary
>to others' suggestions, it is not, at least in my usage, a device for
>shutting off discussion.  Rather, it is a way of moving from Issue A, as
>to which there is a known or unknown but determinable answer beyond our
>control, to closely related Issue B, where we can have some influence.
>"Well, we don't know yet whether it's a 1934 Act registered company, but
>it is what it is.  In any case, were its disclosure obligations met
>John Baker
>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
>Of George Thompson
>Sent: Friday, February 17, 2006 5:24 PM
>Subject: Re: on behalf of a researcher
>If I may obfuscate this issue.
>I was reading a low newspaper from NYC, 1843 this afternoon when I came
>upon this headline:
>"The New York Sporting Whip versus The New York Sporting Herald -- The
>Editor of the Whip supoosed to be somebody else -- We prove that "he am
>just what he am," and not James Gordon Bennett."  The New York Sporting
>Whip, February 25, 1843, p. 2, col. 4.
>     The NY Sporting Whip was a weekly devoted to lowlife, scandal, and
>laddish sports: horseracing, prizefighting, ratting, even
>badger-baiting.  James Gordon Bennett was the publisher and editor of
>The Herald, a daily genreally scorned by the right thinking.  Evidently
>he had begun a second newspaper devoted to sports, which I haven't
>otherwise encountered.  It appears that there was speculation that the
>editor of the Sporting Whip also wrote for the Sporting Herald, but he
>here denies it.
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
>Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
>Date: Thursday, February 16, 2006 5:37 pm
>Subject: on behalf of a researcher
> > this is posted on behalf of Aaron Britt, who is now doing the
> > research and reporting for William Safire.  i've given him a
> > moderately lame response.  maybe some of you can do better.  please
> > copy your response to him at: aarondbritt at gmail.com.
> >
> > -----
> > There is a phrase that has been in the news lately- Scott McClellan
> > and Britney Spears have both used it in the last couple weeks and I
> > wonder if you can tell me more about it.  The phrase is: It is what
> > it is.
> >
> > What precisely does this mean?  How does this phrase function in
> > conversation?  It seems to suggest that there's no more to say, or is
> > this a ruse to try to shut down conversation?  When someone utters
> > this phrase what are they trying to convey?  Can you think of other
> > phrases that convey the same thing, or nearly the same thing?  Some
> > that come to mind are 'What's done is done' or 'It speaks for itself.'
> > -----
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
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