"Look to the left ..."

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 21 23:04:29 UTC 2011

Barry Popik has an entry about this expression with background
information and many fine citations.

“Look to your right, look to your left--one of them won’t be here next year”

Victor's great 1937 cite in Life magazine seems to be the earliest.


On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 2:14 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Look to the left ..."
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> Well, there is one difference--the 1937 article specifically mentioned
> "men". This is certainly no longer the case. On the other hand, it goes
> with a lot of other Harvard LS lore--hiding casebooks and review
> articles so that others would not find them (also no longer applicable
> because of electronic access), etc. Some of this has been popularized in
> the Paper Chase (book, film, series). Some ended up in Legally Blond.
> Some is simply passed on from one generation of lawyers to the next (and
> not just at Harvard).
> The closest I can think of with an attrition rate of 30%+ is the
> Berkeley math department. They are known for bringing in a lot of grad
> students only to slaughter them with exams. Someone has to teach the
> large freshman courses, after all. Of course, this too may be apocryphal.
>     VS-)
> On 11/21/2011 1:07 PM, Baker, John wrote:
>>          Well, I don't know.  Are there people who think Harvard students are still told this?
>>          I think it's pretty clear that it's something that Harvard Law School students were once told.  I remember once meeting an alum who asked if we were still told this, as they were in his day.  (This would have been in 1981, so it does not undercut my suggestion that nobody in 2011 thinks Harvard students are still told this.)  He probably matriculated in the early 1930s or thereabouts, I would guess.
>> John Baker
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