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Can anyone tell me what this type of repetitive use of two words together in a phrase is actually called? For example:

  • "What it is, is..."
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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Jun 26 '13 at 20:31

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

The repetition of conjunctions is called polysyndeton. – mis-n-salem Jun 26 '13 at 16:34
Also to a certain extent this could fall under alliteration although that is to do with the same letters or sounds at the beginning of adjacent words. – Sam Jun 26 '13 at 16:39
Some of those can be rather embarrassing; I hate when I do do that... (oops, I just said doo-doo again!) – J.R. Jun 26 '13 at 17:06
This is actually called the double is, and we have at least three previous questions on this subject, complete with solid answers, links to Language Log, and whatnot. The site search does not really work for such short words as "is", but you can easily use Google for that. Thank you. – RegDwigнt Jun 26 '13 at 20:38

It's called Epizeuxis.

In rhetoric, an epizeuxis is the repetition of words in immediate succession, for vehemence or emphasis.

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Yes, but that's not the case here (and this is certainly not polysyndeton). And antanaclasis is when a word is used sequentially in different senses. Perhaps there isn't a dedicated term for accidental juxtaposition. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 26 '13 at 16:41
hmmm I remember my lecturers referred to word placement like that as just "superfluous", but as a descriptor rather than a name. – Corina Jun 26 '13 at 16:44
What @Edwin says says it all. These are not words repeated for emphasis, but words repeated due to the structure of the sentence. – J.R. Jun 26 '13 at 17:08
@Corina: I agree with Edwin Ashworth. Epizeuxis is seen, for example, in the following: "The key to opening a new business is location, location, location!" – rhetorician Jun 26 '13 at 20:02

When it's unnecessary, it's called a double copula

From Wikipedia:

The double copula, also known as the reduplicative copula, double is or Isis, is the usage of two successive copulae when only one is necessary, largely in spoken English.

There are cases where it's correct to repeat a copula, but I don't believe there's a term for those.

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"When it's unnecessary" is a big qualifier here and not applicable to the given example. In the construct given (and many similar ones), both instances of the word are necessary for the sentence to be grammatically correct (or even understandable). Compare "What it is is a mystery" and "What it is a mystery." – Kevin Jun 26 '13 at 17:53

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