Posted by Smokey Stover on December 15, 2007
In Reply to: That that is, is posted by J Hynes on December 10, 2007
: In the stone arch over the door of a very old cottage the words, THAT THAT IS,IS. Is this a mediaeval saying, from a poem, from a religious teaching?
: I have tried to find out for ages, you are my last hope.
It's not an idiom, nor is it, so far as I know, any special kind of saying, although it could be. It obviously meant something to the person who had it chiseled in. The meaning could be a sort of basic statement of stoicism, and I have no doubt that that's at least part of what it represents to the original owner of the door. Besides the plain vanilla meaning of the words, there's an implication. What is, is--so accept it and move on. Or stop wasting your time trying to undo it, or looking for ways around it. There are other ways to phrase it. Popeye said, "I yam what I yam. I'm Popeye the sailor man." What you see is what you get. To the owner, that may have been the antecedent to some significant thought; or it might have been just an example of whimsy.
Or it might have a historical significance that has entirely escaped me, and some kind fellow phrase-nut will bail me out here.