Rule of Three

Mon Feb 9 18:22:17 UTC 2004

        Actually, it's surprising just how often an earliest recorded use (or at least the earliest recorded use that we can find) refers to a phrase as "old," so the article's use of "hackneyed" proves little.  What we see is that there were no recorded uses in the Westlaw database before 1984, but nine that year.  That suggests that it was around that time that the real estate joke was widely dispersed.  Of course, once you've heard the joke a few times, it sounds hackneyed, even if in fact it is relatively new.

        While the expression could be as recent as 1984, it could also be (and probably is) older, perhaps much older, failing to show up in databases because it was geographically limited or had mostly oral use.  Donald Trump, who is associated with several of the early uses, may have been a factor in its popularization.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: Arnold M. Zwicky [mailto:zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU]
Sent: Monday, February 09, 2004 12:59 PM
Subject: Re: Rule of Three

On Feb 9, 2004, at 7:16 AM, John Baker wrote:

>         I'll open the bidding for earliest examplar, though I'm sure
> Barry or Sam can do much better.  From a 4/16/84 article in Time about
> the young Donald Trump: "When asked the three rules for making money
> in real estate, most promoters answer with the hackneyed "Location,
> location, location." "

well, you can pretty much bet that someone can improve on a citation
that has "hackneyed" in it!  but this is a start.

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