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Wednesday, June 25, 2008   12:45 PM

This morning on CNN I heard Dick Uliano say that Hillary and Obama are "making nice-nice after their bitter primary battle."

I love that making nice-nice. I'm a sucker for this sort of reduplication(?) in English, whether it's meant to clarify (as in "he drives a car-car") or — as is presumably the case here — merely there for emphasis (like my friend who says "multiple multiple times").

And then there's that famous Sidney Morgenbesser story:

In the 1950's, the British philosopher J.L. Austin came to Columbia to present a paper about the close analysis of language. He'd just explained that, although two negatives make a positive, nowhere is it the case that two positives make a negative, when from the audience a familiar nasal voice muttered a dismissive, "Yeah, yeah."

(Also humorous but completely unrelated: I just learned that the heart of rock and roll is not Topeka, but rather still beatin'. Mondegreen ho!)

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Thanks for your comment on prescriptivism, Dan. As for this reduplication issue, I've considered this idea with friends after a phonology class we once had. English doesn't seem too keen on them, but there is one that we, at least, believed to be an example of reduplication:

"Do you like him, or do you like-like him?"

As I'm sure you know, many African languages use reduplication even as a derivational morpheme, so it's extreme in their use, unlike in ours.

In the South, where "Coke" can mean any type of soda, I often had to order a "Coke-Coke" to make it clear that what I wanted was a Coca-Cola in particular.

P.S.: I was in college before I realized "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" wasn't about an affair. Really.

Maybe one person makes nice, and two people together make nice-nice.

Sounds a bit childish to me (but then so does 'makes nice').

An episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" offers this advice: You have to make the nice.

Thought you might enjoy this piece on reduplication:

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