"Location, location, location": a proverb?

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed May 30 15:28:23 UTC 2007

On May 30, 2007, at 5:00 AM, Jon Lighter wrote:

> Oh, I forgot:
> "What I tell you three times is true." --Lewis Carroll, "The
> Hunting of the Snark."
> (That's once....)
> JL
> "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote: ----------------------
> Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson"
> Subject:      Re: "Location, location, location": a proverb?
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
>  From the 18th century ... what, this isn't the "long 18th century"
> email list? ... well, anyway, from at least the reign of Shah Jahan
> (ruled 1628-1658), for whom this palace in Delhi was built:
> "High on the walls of the room [containing the Mogul Emperor's
> Peacock Throne] was repeated an inscription in Persian: 'If there be
> a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.'"...

it's very discouraging to see our earlier discussion on this topic
being reproduced.  i suppose it was inevitable that the Snark line
would appear, again.

i tried to be as clear as possible about this in my Language Log
posting (which Ben Zimmer cited, and which summarizes much of the
earlier ADS-L discussion).  repetition for emphasis (or affirmation)
has been around forever.  it's the precursor to the snowclone, which
is a conventionalized figure of the form
   the three most important things in X are Y, Y, Y
(or something close), conveying
   the only important thing in X is Y.

once people know the figure, they can get away with
   Y, Y, Y
as conveying
   the only important thing (in this context) is Y.
but that doesn't mean that every triplication is an instance of the
snowclone.  only a few are.

maybe people are confused because i gave the figure the name "X3".  i
wanted a short name; ""the three most important things in X are Y, Y,
Y" 'the only important thing in X is Y'" is not really a usable
name.  anything shorter leaves out important details of the form and
content of the figure -- but that should be ok, since LABELS ARE NOT


but, apparently, i am going to be forever misunderstood.  maybe i
should have called the figure "Irene", or "73.53.8".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list