I am what I am ....

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 23 14:27:34 UTC 2010

At 8:09 AM -0400 4/23/10, Charles Doyle wrote:
>A good many proverbs, in addition to "Let bygones be bygones" and
>one or two others that Safire quoted, appear (on the "surface") to
>be tautological propositions or mere assertions of identities (of
>course, they aren't really):  "Business is business"; "A deal
>(bargain) is a deal (bargain)"; "Boys will be boys"; "When you've
>got to go, you've got to go"; et al.

Curiously, Safire didn't mention (in his discussion of "Let Poland be
Poland") the flap about "Let Reagan be Reagan", but maybe he
discusses that elsewhere.  Probably used for other politicians some
of whose advisors accuse others of preventing the true Whoever from
coming out.  I'm not sure I've encountered a "Let Obama be Obama"
yet, but it's probably out there...Yup, 150K raw google hits,
including duplicates.


>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2010 23:42:08 -0400
>>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf
>>of Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>)
>>On Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 9:08 PM, James Harbeck <jharbeck at sympatico.ca> wrote:
>>>>Is there a technical term for such silly phrases?  Of course, the
>>>>end of the
>>>>statement is "a yam."
>>>  Tautologies, I suppose.
>>Safire called them tautophrases.
>  >http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/magazine/07wwln_safire.html
>>--Ben Zimmer
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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