Data points: verbing 8/18/10

Jon Lighter just wrote to ADS-L:

Reading this reminded me of the many times I read it in freshman themes in the 1980s and probably ’70s:

2010 WikiAnswers (link):
Who quoted The more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war?
* *sun tzu*.*

Here we have the noun quote, a clipping of the noun quotation or a nouning of the verb quote, verbed to yield quote ‘originate  (a notable quote/quotation)’. Both more compact and more direct than “first said” or “originated the quote”.

Though it does introduce a possibly troublesome (in these days of plagiarism anxieties) ambiguity between originating and relaying a quote.

3 Responses to “Data points: verbing 8/18/10”

  1. bfwebster Says:

    Actually, the real problem is that Sun Tzu never said that or anything close to that (speaking as someone who published a book 15 years ago re-interpreting “The Art of War” maxim by maxim for developing and marketing technology). He certainly talks about preparing before battle (e.g., “Therefore, a victorious army first obtains conditions for victory, then seeks to do battle.”), but there’s nothing even approaching a “sweat/bleed” pairing; mostly he warns _against_ pushing your troops too hard.

    I’ll also note that Sun Tzu never said “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” or “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” I’ve seen both attributed to him. ..bruce..

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Hey, Bruce, I’m a linguist, quoting Jon Lighter quoting a site that makes the claim about what Sun Tzu said. It’s all about the way the claim is framed. The point would be the same if the site attributed the quotation “My hovercraft is full of eels” to Sun Tzu. But you knew that.

      The only reason I bring it up is that I periodically get burned by quoting someone (often to mock or refute them) and then having the quote attributed to me. The miscreants rarely see the issue. “But you wrote that!”, they say. That’s when I strangle them with the eels from Sun Tzu’s hovercraft.

      Notice that in this case I’m two levels away from the claim about Sun Tzu. Jon Lighter said nothing about Sun Tzu, and neither did I.

  2. bfwebster Says:

    Arnold — yes, yes, yes, I know you’re just quoting someone else (who’s actually quoting someone else). Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. Should have added a smiley face.

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