fun with phrases

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 19 20:43:07 UTC 2011

If I understand Friedman's version correctly as a foreign policy
commentary, then the correct version should be, "If you fix it, you own
it." There would be enough subtleties in that phrase to fill a
book--which, of course, proves that Friedman could not have said /that/.
H's just not that smart--or subtle.


On 10/19/2011 10:32 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> "You broke it, you bought it"
> This just turned up as part of a dialogue taking place in 1938 in a =
> recent novel, _Rules of Civility_, and I was wondering if it was =
> anachronistic.  I didn't see much pre-1990s in Google Books for this, =
> and the fact that this dictum is sometimes referred to (e.g. in NYT =
> op-eds a while back about the Iraq war; see below) as "the Pottery Barn =
> rule" makes me wonder if it could really have been around in the 1930s.  =
> Of course it has variants, none of which I tracked in GB, and what's =
> relevant here is the metaphorical use--as applied in current love songs =
> to the narrator's heart (directed to ex-lover) or political contexts =
> like the U.S. economy (e.g. in Occupy Wall Street posters, directed to =
> bankers).  The wikipedia site, =
>, notes that
> New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman claims to have coined the =
> term, having used the phrase "the pottery store rule" in a February 12, =
> 2003, column. He has said he referred to Pottery Barn specifically in =
> speeches.

The American Dialect Society -

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