Friday, May 25, 2007

Quote Week Ends With Famous Non-Quotes

A lot of famous quotes are attributed to the wrong people, or were never even "spoken" by anyone in the first place. Today: some examples.

"There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies, and statistics." Most people attribute this quote to Mark Twain, but he didn't say it. He repeated it, though, and gave credit to the person who DID originally say it: Benjamin Disraeli.

Business students: Don't claim President Bush said, "The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur." President Bush has said many things, but not that.

Did Chief Seattle ever say, "The earth is our mother"? He did not. If you have a Chief Seattle quote in your paper, you better track down the original source, because there are a number of ecology-based quotes attributed to him that he never actually said.

Despite the jokes about it, Al Gore never claimed to have "invented the Internet."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never had Sherlock Holmes say the line, "Elementary, my dear Watson." (In a later film version of a Sherlock Holmes story, though, the film Holmes did say something close to that.)

We could go on, but the lesson is simple: document your sources. Even if you want to use a "famous" quote that you're sure the source said, because everyone says that the source said that, remember that if you're writing for college, you better track the quote down and cite your source.

Good weekend to you.

No comments: