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

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 5 20:50:03 UTC 2015


> On Aug 5, 2015, at 4:07 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> 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.

Well, there's always Disraeli, or (if any writer in English automatically qualifies as an "englisher Autor") Mark Twain, if we want to start with quote magnets.  Too early for Oscar Wilde, and not quite cynical enough, and definitely too early for Churchill.

LH
> 
> Here is a link to the Quote Investigator website entry:
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__quoteinvestigator.com_2015_08_05_spear_&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NiaKIYmran6sKudxmKkxkM4jh7sKIq652rZ-vjPupJA&s=2lurSlR89w30c7vHKhvQabJR2JAMdSRbI32EeQjC58Q&e= 
> 
> Thanks
> Garson
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.americandialect.org&d=AwIFaQ&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=NiaKIYmran6sKudxmKkxkM4jh7sKIq652rZ-vjPupJA&s=fn5TfmF6q1qRvRq6cynZRxLkGxjkSCzfkxMz_xGiPIo&e= 

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


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