Thursday, March 25, 2021

QUOTE WEEK, continued

There are various warnings on the internet about quotes incorrectly attributed:

Following are examples, and comments, on misquotes and misattributions . . .



“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

-        Gandhi

Actual quote by Gandhi:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”

“The end justifies the means.”

-        Machiavelli

·        The closest quote by Machiavelli is:

“One must consider the final result.”

·        A closer quote is by the poet Ovid:

“The result justifies the deeds.”

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

-        Neil Armstrong

Armstrong always maintained that he had said “a man” and that the word “a” had been obscured.  In 2006, a computer programmer analysed the audio and stated that the word “a” had been spoken by Armstrong.

“Let them eat cake.”

-         Marie Antoinette

·        Marie Antoinette never actually said this. Instead, it came from a book titled Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which was published in 1782—11 years before Marie Antoinette was executed.

·        Also, the line was “Let them eat brioche,” a kind of heavy, bread-like French pastry.

·        It’s likely the attribution to Marie Antoinette occurred because the commoners of France were hostile to the Royals.

“A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”

-        Gloria Steinem

Australian writer Irina Dunn is credited with this phrase, which Dunn says she wrote on the door of public bathrooms when she was a student in the 70s.

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

-        Variously attributed to Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson, Ann Landers, et al.

The phrase is an alteration of one made by Jonathan Swift:

“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.”

"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto."

-        Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz (played by Judy Garland)

This phrase was never uttered by the character. What she really said was “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.”

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

-        Voltaire

Thought to be words of Voltaire; it was actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.

"Just the facts, ma'am."

-        Joe Friday, Dragnet (original series)


·        This quote from the Jack Webb series Dragnet, was never said by Sgt. Friday in any of the Dragnet radio or television series.

·        The quote was, however, adopted in the 1987 Dragnet pseudo-parody film starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks in which Aykroyd played Sgt. Joe Friday.

·        Correct versions:

"All we want are the facts, ma'am."

"All we know are the facts, ma'am."

"Elementary, my dear Watson.”

-         Sherlock Holmes

·        This phrase was never spoken by the character in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's written works.

·        Though "Elementary," and " dear Watson." both appear near the beginning of The Crooked Man (1893), it is the " dear Watson" that appears first, and "Elementary" is the succinct reply to Watson's exclamation a few lines of dialogue later. This is the closest these four immortal words ever appear together in the Canon.

·        The first documented occurrence of this quote appears in the P. G. Wodehouse novel, "P Smith, Journalist", which was serialized in The Captain magazine (1909-10) then published in book form (1915) and contains the following dialogue:

"That's right," said Billy Windsor. "Of course."

“Elementary, my dear Watson, elementary," murmured P Smith

"It's life, Jim, but not as we know it."

-        Dr McCoy, Star Trek

·        Attributed to Leonard McCoy from the run of Star Trek: The Original Series, but the phrase was never uttered.

·        The similar phrase "not life as we know it" is spoken by Spock in the season one episode "The Devil in the Dark".

·        The spurious phrase originated in the 1987 novelty song "Star Trekkin'", in which the quote is attributed to Spock. McCoy's line in the song was, "It's worse than that, he's dead, Jim!"

“If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain."

-        Muhammad

·        Often attributed to the prophet Muhammad but there is no evidence that he actually said this.

·        This phrase actually originates in a retelling of the story of Muhammad by Francis Bacon in 1625:"Mahomet cald the Hill to come to him. And when the Hill stood still, he was neuer a whit abashed, but said; If the Hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet wil go to the Hill."

·        The original phrase used the term "hill", but John Owen's 1643 translation used the term "mountain".

·        This phrase is often misquoted due to widespread misunderstanding of the phrase's meaning. It does not refer to "going after opportunity instead of waiting for it to come to you". Its meaning translates, "If one's will does not prevail, one must submit to an alternative."

"I will return and I will be millions."

-        This is often attributed to Eva Perón, and is on her tombstone,

·        There is no record she said it.

·        The belief that she did say it is probably because she does in a José María Castiñeira de Dios poem written in her voice nearly ten years after her 1952 death.

·        Túpac Katari, a leader of the Bolivian indigenous people's rebellion against Spanish rule, did in fact say something similar ("I shall die but return tomorrow multiplied ten thousandfold") before his 1781 execution; more recently, a slave in Howard Fast's contemporary novel Spartacus says the line as he is being crucified and the line is repeated in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film version.

I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while!"

-        Attributed to Groucho Marx.

·        According to urban legend, while interviewing Marion and Charlotte Story for a 1950 episode of You Bet Your Life, Marx uttered the phrase in response to Charlotte, who had mothered 20 children with her husband, saying how much she loved her husband. According to surviving recordings of the episode in question, Marx actually said "With each new kid, do you go around passing out cigars?" Although episodes of You Bet Your Life were known to be edited for content, Marx himself denied ever saying the more risqué phrase.

·        In another known episode with a child who was among 17 siblings, Groucho asked the girl what her father thought of having such a large family; when she responded that her father loves children, he replied "Well, I like pancakes, but I haven't got a closet full of them!" A conflation of this exchange with that of the Story family may have been the source of the more ribald misquotation.

“A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.”

-        Samuel Goldwyn

One of many quirky Goldwynisms, this is a corruption of Goldwyn's actual quote praising a friend's trustworthy nature: "His verbal contract is worth more than the paper it's written on."

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

-        A quote allegedly made by Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto regarding the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor,

·        The quote was first used in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! and again in the 2001 film Pearl Harbor.

·        While this quote may have encapsulated his sentiments regarding the attack, there is no printed evidence to prove Yamamoto made this statement or wrote it down.

"Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."

·        This misquote hearkens back to the British Lord Acton, a 19th century English historian who was commenting about tyrannical monarchs (Caesar, Henry VIII, Napoleon, various Russian tsars, etc.)

·        Lord Acton actually wrote: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Beam me up, Scotty"

-        James T. Kirk

·        From the Star Trek science fiction television series.

·        Several variants of this occur in the series, such as "Energize", "Beam me aboard," "Beam us up home," or "Two to beam up," but "Beam me up, Scotty" was never said during the run of the original Star Trek series.

·        However, the quote "Beam us up, Scotty" was uttered in Star Trek: The Animated Series.

·        The movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home included the closest other variation: "Scotty, beam me up."

·        James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty, chose this phrase as the title of his 1996 autobiography.

Damn it, Jim! I'm a doctor, not a..."

-        Leonard McCoy, from the Star Trek science fiction television series.

·        McCoy had several lines of this sort, except that he never said "damn it". Only one "swear word" was used on the original Star Trek series (before the movies): "hell". It was most famously spoken at the end of the episode entitled "City on the Edge of Forever": "Let's get the hell out of here" – J. T. Kirk.

·        The phrase, complete with "damn it" probably originated from Dan Ackroyd's Dr. McCoy impersonation during a skit on Saturday Night Live season 1 episode 22; although McCoy did eventually end up saying, "Damn it, Jim" in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, followed directly by, "what the hell's the matter with you?"

"Money is the root of all evil."

In context: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." (1 Timothy 6:10) KJV (The King James Bible)

"The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash."

-        Attributed to Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill's personal secretary, Anthony Montague-Browne, said that although Churchill did not say this, he wished he had.

"Do you feel lucky, punk?"

-        Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry

·        Correct quote plus context: "Ah-ah. I know what you're thinking: 'Did he fire six shots, or only five?' Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, PUNK?"

·        Jim Carrey's character in The Mask came closer to the correct quote: "Now you have to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well... do ya... PUNKS?"

"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"

"The correct quotation is "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned/ Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." by William Congreve in The Mourning Bride of 1697.

"Houston, we have a problem"

·        This phrase, supposedly uttered by Apollo 13 commander, Jim Lovell was, in its original rendering: "Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a main B bus undervolt."

·        However, the first notification to Houston that there was a problem was by fellow astronaut Jack Swigert, who used almost identical words.

·        The official NASA chronology lists the messages as:

55:55:20 – Swigert: "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here."

55:55:28 – Lousma: "This is Houston. Say again please."

55:55:35 – Lovell: "Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a main B bus undervolt."

·        However, in the movie Apollo 13, Tom Hanks says Houston, we have a problem,.

Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains."

-        Often attributed to Winston Churchill

·        The phrase originated with François Guizot (1787-1874): "Not to be a republican at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head." It was revived by French Premier Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929): "Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head."

·        Referenced in Swimming with Sharks (1994) as "if you're not a rebel by the age of 20, you've got no heart, but if you haven't turned establishment by 30, you've got no brains."

“Luke, I am Your Father .”

-        Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The correct quote is:

Darth Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.

Luke Skywalker: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!

Darth Vader: No. I am your father.

Luke Skywalker: No... that's not true! That's impossible!

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.”

-        The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1834).

Actual quote:

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

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