It's in the was

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The marvellous New Zealand-born opera soprano Kiri Te Kanawa announced that she has now retired from performance. Talking to the BBC about it this morning, she said of her voice: "It's in the was."

It's not a foreignism (she's a native speaker of English, not Maori). It was an on-the-fly playful way to say "It's something that should henceforth be referred to using the preterite tense." She followed "It's in the was" by "It's in the past" to gloss it. But it was a cute turn of phrase. I can almost imagine it catching on.

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