And the post title is not Isis.
Extris or Isis formation is an incompletely understood phenomenon in English speech. The history of the form and the influencing structures are not yet fully revealed. Further confusion comes from the impression that two adjacent identical copula verbs are sufficient (or necessary) to identify the type.
This latter confusion has been addressed by both Arnold Zwicky and Mark Liberman in the posts I linked to above. (If there was no line break between that last sentence would I have to say "linked to atop"?) To make the distinction quickly I'll just say that the following are examples of Isis formation:
- "what's funny is, is they're about the same person."
- "The only thing is, is that nobody has noticed it yet!!"
- "Now I feel that I must do something to help the cause and I feel the best way is, is to encourage everyone who reads this review to pick up the book and know the truth of the immense suffering of this peace-loving country that China is destroying."
- "[so] my other question would be is...": (A call-in commenter on C-SPAN's Washington Journal)
- "But the problem is, Charlie, is the U.S...": (Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach--interviewed by Charlie Rose) Split Isis. Nice.
The following are not Isis, but standard English forms:
- "They proudly call themselves egotists, when what they are is egomaniacs and megalomaniacs."
- "But what it is is a rousing good read."
- "What's weird is, is this new?": the second "is" is part of a question. Think of that question as the answer to another question 'What is weird?'
- "the second 'is' is part of a question.": I had to include this one right?
The first two are standard pseudocleft sentences. Imagine them without one of the copula verbs: *what they are(,)egomaniacs or *What it is(,)a rousing good read.
Also dodging the Isis label are performance errors like stutters and other disfluent repetitions.
Listen closely around 4:36 into the following video
Conchata Ferrell says "See my problem is is that I'm a giver." Some questions here: Did the writers put that into the script or did Conchata Ferrell just utter it as a natural form because the script is just loosely followed and not strictly obeyed? Did she deliberately choose the form as a characterization of Berta? If so, what does she believe the form implies about the Berta's character?
Zwicky provides an example from the show Charmed: "The difference is is that I don't want him to find you." He writes that it "was surely not a scripted bit," but I say it is hard to know. He also suggests that it "was probably not noticed by anyone involved with the episode." True. These things easily go unnoticed.
The TV.com guide to this episode of Two and a Half Men quotes Berta's line as "See, my problem is that I'm a giver." Is this an oversight or a correction? We may never know. But I just asked Buffy to quote the clip and she said "See my problem is that I'm a giver." Of course Ferrell utters the line very quickly and I can imagine that Buffy noticed the trip and discounted it as disfluency. I'll ask her.
Nope. She says she didn't notice it at all. "But she talked so weird" she says.