Most Notable Quotations of 2010

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU
Tue Nov 23 03:37:38 UTC 2010

You know, Fred (and Ben), what's striking about this list is that only
Stewart's line was deliberately composed to be apothegmatic or
memorable. The others are all "accidentals," and apart from Isom's,
they're remarks that seem to inadvertently betray the arrogance or
ignorance of the speaker (you could add Palin's "refudiate," Obama's
"whose ass to kick," etc.). Is it your sense that this has become the
dominant type when people compile "notable quotations" lists these
days? Can you put a start point on this? -- I mean, obviously these
have antecdents in remarks like Nixon's "I am not a crook" and "you
won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore" etc., but the tendency
seems to be more marked in a world where everything is recorded, no?
Or is there some independent contributing cultural factor, as well?
Anyway, looking back over your corpora, what if anything jumps out?


> From: "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
> Date: November 19, 2010 6:14:40 PM PST
> Subject: Most Notable Quotations of 2010
> I am now working on my list for the Associated Press of the top 10
> most notable quotations of the year.  By "notable" I mean
> "important" or "famous" or "particularly revealing of the spirit of
> our times" rather than necessarily being eloquent or admirable.
> Some of the possibiliities (many of them very helpfully suggested by
> Ben Zimmer) include:
> Government isn't what our Founding Fathers put into the Constitution.
> Sharron Angle
> I'd like my life back.
> Tony Hayward
> Dude, you have no Koran!
> Jacob Isom
> I'm going to take my talents to South Beach.
> LeBron James
> I'm not a witch.  I'm nothing you've heard.  I'm you.
> Christine O'Donnell
> We live in hard times, not End Times.
> Jon Stewart
> I would welcome suggestions of additional quotes from 2010,
> particularly ones from politics or popular culture or entertainment
> or sports or business or technology.
> Fred Shapiro

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