it is what it is, Monty Python division

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Sat Feb 25 15:57:42 UTC 2006

from All the Words, vol. 2, pp. 118-9:

Miss Elk  Oh, what is my theory?

Presenter  Yes.

Miss Elk  Oh what is my theory that it is.  Well Chris you may well
ask me what is my theory.

Presenter  I _am_ asking.

Miss Elk   Good for you.  My word yes.  Well Chris, what is it that
it is -- this theory of mine.  Well, this is what it is -- my theory
that I have, that is to say, which is mine, is mine.

Presenter (beginning to show signs of exasperation)  Yes, I know it's
yours, what is it?

Miss Elk  Where?  Oh, what is my theory?  This is it.  (clears throat
at some length)  My theory that belongs to me is as follows.  (clears
throat at great length)  This is how it goes.  The next thing I'm
going to say is my theory.  Ready?

Presenter  Yes.

Miss Elk  My theory by A. Elk.  Brackets Miss, brackets.  This theory
goes as follows and begins now.  All brontosauruses are thin at one
end, much much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far
end.  That is my theory, it is mine, and belongs to me and I own it,
and what it is too.


i don't see any occurrences of the formula "it is what it is" in
there -- just literal "what it is".

arnold (zwicky at

The American Dialect Society -

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