Posted by Gary Martin on May 30, 2007
In Reply to: Re: There there posted by R. Berg on May 27, 2007
: : : Where does the saying 'there there' come from, like what you say to someone when they are sad?
: : Previous discussion at:
: : http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/29/messages/874.html
: : Anyone have something to add to the above?
: The previous discussion at the link doesn't really answer the poster's question. Maybe no one knows why "There, there" is used in comforting. If I had to guess, I'd say the th- sound might be calming. It sounds soft, like a cushion. (Do speakers of languages with harsher consonants say the equivalent of "There, there"?) And the meaning of the word may ground comfortees by emphasizing their location in their bodies. ~rb
Exact reduplications like 'there, there' are often used in baby talk - 'choo-choo', wee-wee' etc. I'm not sure why.