[Ads-l] The man who first flung a word of abuse at his enemy instead of a spear was the founder of civilization

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 5 20:07:54 UTC 2015


Dr. Mardy Grothe who has written a series of quotation books contacted
me about a saying attributed to Sigmund Freud. Here is a common modern
version from brainyquote:

[Begin excerpt]
The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the
founder of civilization.  - Sigmund Freud
[End excerpt]

I found a German instance of the saying in an article by Freud
published in a Vienna medical journal in 1893:

[Begin excerpt]
Aber, wie ein englischer Autor geistreich bemerkte, derjenige, welcher
dem Feinde statt des Pfeiles ein Schimpfwort entgegenschleuderte, war
der Begründer der Civilisation, so ist das Wort der Ersatz für die
That und unter Umständen der einzige Ersatz (Beichte).
[End excerpt]

Here is an English translation from the "Standard Edition" of Freud:

[Begin excerpt]
But, as an English writer has wittily remarked, the man who first
flung a word of abuse at his enemy instead of a spear was the founder
of civilization. Thus words are substitutes for deeds, and in some
circumstances (e.g. in Confession) the only substitutes.
[End excerpt]

Perhaps someone can determine the identity of the "English writer" or
can find an earlier instance of the saying. If you have an opinion
about the translation that you wish to share on-list or off-list
please do so.

Here is a link to the Quote Investigator website entry:
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/08/05/spear/

Thanks
Garson

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


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