This device is more popular than you may realize. It’s been employed, for example, in scenes from a couple of popular sitcoms. In “The Doodle,” an episode from Seinfeld’s sixth season, George is dating Paula, a woman in Elaine’s drawing class at The New School. He finds a doodle Paula did of him in which he “looks like a troll.” This worries George, so he asks Elaine to play the part of inquisitive schoolgirl and find out, at her next drawing class, if Paula likes him.
Elaine: Hey, Paula, I hear you’ve been going out with George Costanza.
Paula: How did you know?
Elaine: Everybody knows. You know, George told me he thinks you’re totally cute and everything.
Paula: He said that?
Elaine [nodding]: Do you like George?
Paula: Yeah! He’s cool.
Elaine: No, I mean … do you like him, or do you like him like him?
Paula: Like like. Looks aren’t that important to me, you know?
Penny: Oh, hey.
Penny: New shirts?
Leonard: Yeah, a couple.
Leonard: Thank you.
Penny: So, who’s the girl?
Leonard: I’m sorry?
Penny: Well, last time you bought a new shirt was when we were dating.
Leonard: So, uh, what we did was in fact dating?
Penny: Well, yeah, we did have a date.
Leonard: Exactly. Thank you. Do me a favor: Tell Koothrappali that next time you see him.
Penny: So, who is she?
Leonard: Oh, she’s a doctor.
Penny: Oh, nice. A doctor doctor, or a you kind of doctor?
Leonard: Doctor doctor. Surgical resident. Smart, pretty.
The linguistic use of stressed repetition isn’t confined to sitcoms, of course. The punch line of a 2007 Zits comic also was, ahem, down with reduplication.
In 2009, shortly after Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland at the request of U.S. authorities, Whoopi Goldberg created a maelstrom when she resorted to reduplication on The View while trying to characterize what the film director did to a 13-year-old girl in 1977. “I don’t believe it was rape rape,” she said.
Here are some other, less incendiary examples:
• Are you going to read an e-book or a book book?
• We’re taking that thing out on the water? When I agreed to go sailing, I thought we’d be on a boat boat.
• Let’s go out for dinner.
OK, how about McDonald’s?
No, I want to go to a restaurant restaurant.
• I’m a writer.
Nice. How many books have you had published?
None. I write blog posts.
Oh, so you’re not a writer writer.
• Ouch! I scratched my knee.
Oh, suck it up! You didn’t get hurt hurt.
• It was just a couple of friends having dinner together. It wasn’t a date date.
• He kissed you? Was it a peck on the cheek or a kiss kiss?
I hope you enjoyed today’s post. If you disliked it, I understand, but if you disliked disliked it, I don’t want to know.