Where does this come from?

That is how it is.

closed as not a real question by StoneyB, FumbleFingers, tchrist, Lunivore, Mitch Nov 12 '12 at 3:08

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  • Maybe. But we would like to know more if we are to help. – Kris Nov 11 '12 at 8:16
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    @ethel I've edited the question to make it a little clearer. If I've misinterpreted it, please re-edit to put it right. – Andrew Leach Nov 11 '12 at 8:48
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    The earliest instance I find of this phrase tout simple is in the testimony of 'Cockerell, labourer' in the 1834 Report of the Poor Law Commissioners. I don't think it "comes from" anywhere but the language itself. That is how we say it. – StoneyB Nov 11 '12 at 14:09
  • That up vote up there should rightly go to the brilliant @AndrewLeach :) – Kris Nov 11 '12 at 14:42

I’m tempted to agree with StoneyB’s comment that that’s just how it is: language works that way. The repetition serves to emphasise the finality of the statement.

There is an early example of similar repetition in the Bible’s Gospel of John (John 19:22), which was originally written in Greek and translated into Latin before English:

ὃ γέγραφα, γέγραφα
Quod scripsi, scripsi.
What I have written, I have written.

It certainly has a finality in English that is presumably present in the other languages too (I haven’t studied Biblical Greek). Consequently the structure is ancient and common to many languages, not just English; and it can easily be applied to simple constructions such as “It (or that) is how it is”.

  • You can take it back another Testament: ´ehyeh ´asher ´ehyeh, I am what I am (Exo 3:14). It is what it is. – StoneyB Nov 11 '12 at 16:46
  • This is all very useful. Thank you Andrew for clarifying my own statement.I do like the Bible reference.And Stoney's It comes from the language itself. Thanks Guys.Etheel – ethel Nov 15 '12 at 23:22

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