"recognize the wool from the lamb"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Oct 4 16:39:07 UTC 2011

Well, it pays to think twice, after having slept on it, and re-read
and re-watch once.  In Doyle's text, Isadora Klein says to Holmes,
"He [Douglas Maberley] wrote a book in which he described his own
story. I, of course, was the wolf; he the lamb."  Aha!

So I re-watched the video.  The English subtitle, when Holmes and
Watson are discussing the last and only extant page of Douglas's
book, certainly is "All of London would recognize the wool from the
lamb".  The audio is indistinct to my sub-par ears, but Brett perhaps
slurs the F in "wolf" (lip movement didn't help me enough) and it is
quite possible that the subtitler put "wool".  (There is one place
where Holmes says Steve Dixie was "easily cowed"  and the subtitle is
"easily coward", and there are one or two other, similar mis-hearings.)

So -- I now think Holmes said "recognize the *wolf* from the lamb",
which is simply "recognize Isadora Klein, the predator, from
Douglas's, the victim's, text."

(It is evident that the writer of the one Google hit for "recognize
the wool" wrote from the Granada DVD -- like me, not hearing a clear
F and/or reading the subtitle.  Holmes's line is not in Doyle.)


At 10/4/2011 10:23 AM, Charles C Doyle wrote:
>Seems like the expression ought to be "recognize (or know) the lamb
>from the wool," but I can't find any evidence that such existed.  Or
>that that expression as Joel reports it was ever popular.
>From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of
>Joel S. Berson [Berson at ATT.NET]
>Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 11:44 PM
>In the Jeremy Brett/Sherlock Holmes DVD of "The adventure of the
>Three Gables", while contemplating the effect publication of Douglas
>Maberley's manuscript "novel" would have had on the reputation and
>plans of Isadora Klein, Holmes says "All of London would recognize
>the wool from the lamb" -- meaning, I believe, that the content of
>this autobiographical novel would allow the public to identify the
>woman even though she was not actually named in it.
>There is one lonely Google Everything result for the phrase, in an
>odd transformation of the Conan Doyle story with a "Ms. Sherlene
>Holmes" as the detective.
>Where did this popular saying arise?  (I will while I'm waiting
>re-read Conan Doyle to see if it's actually in his text.)
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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