Walk the Walk

Michael Sheehan Wordmall at AOL.COM
Thu Apr 30 14:03:32 UTC 2009

In a message dated 4/30/09 12:01:58 AM, LISTSERV at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU writes:

> ubject: "Walk the talk" antedated to 1957
> Today's headline said the now-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter will have to
> "walk the talk" when it comes to voting, which reminded me of the possible
> idiom-blending -- or idiom-compression -- of "talk the talk, and walk the
> walk" or variants thereof. I see that the earliest attestation noted here
> is
> one from 1984, found by Ben Zimmer:
> Seattle Times, Dec 3, 1984, p. C11 (Factiva)
> The blackboard in the Juanita Rebels' Kingdome locker room said it all
> after
> their 41-27 Class AAA title game win over South Kitsap. "WE WALKED OUR
> TALK."
> This was in a 2005 message, from the days before Google Books. Here are a
> couple of pre-1984 examples I found there:
> Company Execs and S&H Must Walk the Talk
> (Occupational Hazards. By Health Reference Center, 1962, p. 11)
> The challenge for the government will be to walk the talk and be
> transparent
> and non-political in its decision-making.
> (Middle East Economic Digest, 1957, p. 51)
> These examples were pretty isolated; the 1957 one was the only one from
> the
> 50s, even after checking for "walking", "walked" and "walks". Example were
> much more plentiful in the 1970s and 1980s. I haven't checked to compare
> with the earliest appearance of "walk the walk" and "talk the talk".
> Neal Whitman
> Email: nwhitman at ameritech.net
> Blog: http://literalminded.wordpress.com

I can take it back to 1952 based on personal experience. Al Benson was a
very popular DJ on a Chicago R & B radio station (WGES?). One of his sponsors
was Pekin Cleaners, and Al's standard spiel was, "You gotta walk that walk
and talk that talk, because if you ain't Pekinized, you ain't recognized."

Michael J. Sheehan
The Senior Corner, TADL

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