What They Didn't Say: A Book of Misquotations

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9780199203598: What They Didn't Say: A Book of Misquotations
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An entertaining and thought-provoking book for language buffs and anyone interested in quotations, What They Didn't Say sifts through more than one hundred and fifty misquotations, incorrect attributions, and apocryphal remarks to reveal the origins of the quotes. Organized in an accessible A-Z format, quotes range from "Actors are cattle" (Alfred Hitchcock) to "You dirty rat!" (James Cagney) and span from the classical world right up to the present day.

Bringing together a fascinating range of wrongly remembered sayings, What They Didn't Say aims to set the record straight by revealing the real names and actual words behind the famous missayings.

Sample entry:
A good day to bury bad news.
In the hours following news of the terrorist action in America on 11 September 2001 ("nine-eleven"), the British government adviser Jo Moore sent out an email reading, "It is now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury." This was leaked and widely reported; public shock and distaste were heightened by its becoming fixed in the general consciousness in the form, "a good day to bury bad news."

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About the Author:


Elizabeth Knowles is Publishing Manager for Oxford Quotations Dictionaries and is a historical lexicographer, having previously worked on the 4th edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. She is editor of the current 6th edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

From School Library Journal:

Adult/High School—Alas, Shakespeare did not write "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well." The textually correct reading is: "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio." So why the change and why do we remember "well" instead of "Horatio?" Knowles provides an explanation for this misremembered quote and about 150 others in her enjoyable and informative collection of things not said or not quite said. The author also includes incorrect attributions and several apocryphal remarks that scholars have not been able to find in the works of their supposed originators. The selections range from the extremely common ("nice guys finish last," "let them eat cake") to the lesser known ("laws are like sausages," "he once shot a publisher"). Throughout, the tone is more casual than scholarly, more informative than authoritative. Knowles strikes a good balance between thoroughness and brevity when tracing the origins of these quotes and sayings. The entries are arranged in an A-Z format, with a simple alphabetical listing of the misquotations at the beginning and a name (author) index at the back. A helpful introduction offers keen observations on how misquotations tend to enter our collective consciousness. The book makes a good circulating volume and can also serve on the reference shelf.—Robert Saunderson, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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