Q: "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana."

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Jun 1 13:58:58 UTC 2010


Wikipedia claims the YBQ traces "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit
flies like a banana." back to 1982 but it appears "in slightly
modified form" in 1962  (that is, with the two sentences not
juxtaposed.)  Wikipedia quotes Gilbert Burck (1965). The computer age
and its potential for management. Harper & Row. p. 62.

I believe I heard it said -- or saw it actually written on the
blackboard/shown from a slide/handed out in course material ! --
between 1956 and 1958 by Prof. Anthony Oettinger of Harvard in a
classroom presentation on the difficulties of computer translation of
human languages.  Some of Oettinger's early published (or accessible)
writings on automatic language translation date from 1954 (his Ph. D.
thesis) through 1961.

I also see that the papers of Anthony Oettinger are held by the
Harvard University Archives, including "Course Materials for Applied
Math and Linguistics", "teaching material for courses in applied
mathematics, linguistics, educational technology, and
communication."  The course materials include "Mathematical
linguistics handouts, 1957-1959".

What say ye?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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