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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: That that
Question: Whenever I've come across the use of ''that'' being used twice
consecutively, it's always bothered me. For example, ''That that is
is. That that is not is not. Is that it? It is.'' I recognize the two uses
of the word, but I suppose I'm wondering why, linguistically, there
wasn't a better vehicle created to handle the redundancy of this
word? Does this happen in other languages?

Reply: This is a little late, but I concur with the others that many languages have homophones,
but I think Dr Sampson is correct in that speakers can be puzzled when two of them
come together unexpectedly (similar to a tongue twister).

Here's an another example of two adjacent homophones that could produce a similar
head scratching response.

A: I'd like two scoops of ice-cream please.
B: I'd like two, too. (i.e. I'd also like two scoops)

I think you'd agree that B is grammatical, but it does sound a little odd to me, even with
the clear distinction in meaning and spelling.
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 22-Jul-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: That that    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (21-Jul-2013)
  2. Re: That that    Robert A Papen     (18-Jul-2013)
  3. Re: That that    Susan D Fischer     (19-Jul-2013)
  4. Re: That that    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (19-Jul-2013)
  5. Re: That that    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (18-Jul-2013)

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