Thursday, April 05, 2007

Quote Patrol

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds," Keith Olbermann recited this week.

Uh, no. People often erroneously say "small," but the otherwise truth-squadding MSNBC personality also managed to miss the main point of the Ralph Waldo Emerson quotation.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Not every consistency is foolish. Write it down.

(For all you reference-book addicts, the recently published Yale Book of Quotations sounds like a promising alternative to the old familiar Bartlett's.)


Doug said...

Thank you for noting the correct version. It's the first thing I put up in class each semester -- emphasizing exactly what you did. Followed, of course, by the observation that as copy editors, we try not to be foolish.

Linda said...

Dude, I don't think any amount of calling copy editors pretentious will, or should, convince us that quoting people accurately is "foolish."

Bill said...

It's very simple: Emerson was not attacking consistency. If you leave out "foolish," you are misrepresenting his opinion. If you're so hep on misquoting the "little" part, fine. Knock yourself out.