"Is the Pope (a) Catholic?" (1963); Tizzletalk

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Sun Apr 3 14:30:14 UTC 2005

I've never heard this in speech with the indefinite article included.

On the other hand, so what ?


Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Benjamin Zimmer
Subject: Re: "Is the Pope (a) Catholic?" (1963); Tizzletalk

On Sat, 2 Apr 2005 21:07:23 -0500, bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>This is a classic Americanism. I don't know what people out there have for
> 1.A Buzz to Buzzie; MURRAY'S COLUMN
>JIM MURRAY. Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.:
>Apr 23, 1963. p. B1 (2 pages)
>Pg. B4: And would he be a help to Howard in the outfield? Is the Pope a
>Catholic? Will a dog bark?

Slightly earlier, in an article about Danny Kaye and Carol Burnett
appearing at the "Inaugural Anniversary Salute to President Kennedy":

Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin), November 29, 1962, p. 12
One of the more penetrating reporters among us wanted to know if Kaye and
Miss Burnett were Democrats.
"Is the Pope Catholic?" replied Miss Burnett.

--Ben Zimmer

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