[Ads-l] Motto: In God We Trust; All Others Cash

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 11 14:48:59 EST 2017


Thanks for your response, JL. My interpretation is influenced by the
explication given in the later 1871 citation:

[Begin excerpt]
There is a story that when New York was draped for a departed citizen,
mid the emblems of mourning over a large drygoods house, was entwined
the sentiment, “In God we trust,” Terms Cash, the latter legend being
the permanent sign, which appeared in rather awkward proximity to the
more recent announcement.
[End excerpt]

Based on the above passage I hypothesized that the "In God we trust"
sign was part of the ornamentation for the funeral. It was placed near
the preexisting "Terms Cash" sign without an explicit desire to
combine the messages on the signage.

Nevertheless, a viewer thought that the juxtaposition was funny
precisely because the unintentional combination had the natural
interpretation that you specified: "We trust in God, but our
commercial policy (for you) is cash."

Part of the humor emerges from the belief that the combination
revealed the stores policy of disjunction between the godly and
secular worlds.

I labeled it a precursor because I agree with you that "The recent
appearance of "In God We Trust" on money might have been sufficient to
generate the joke crystallized by the later, classic form of the
saying."

I will try to add some text to the article to improve the exposition.

Garson


On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 2:04 PM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Great work, Garson.
>
> I'm not sure, though, that we can say for sure that the 1865 juxtaposition
> was unintentional, particularly if the two lines were side by side.
> (Paraphrase: "We trust in God, but our commercial policy (for you) is cash."
>
> The recent appearance of "In God We Trust" on money might have been
> sufficient to generate the joke crystallized by the later, classic form of
> the saying.
>
> JL
>
> On Mon, Dec 11, 2017 at 11:54 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> The motto in the subject line was mentioned on this mailing list by JL
>> back in 2011. It is listed in Fred's "The Yale Book of Quotations",
>> Mencken's "A New Dictionary of Quotations", Rees's "Brewer's Famous
>> Quotations", Popik's website, and many other compendiums.
>>
>> The Quote Investigator website now has an article with an April 4,
>> 1877 citation and a precursor citation on May 4, 1865.
>>
>> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/12/10/cash/
>>
>> [Begin acknowledgement excerpt]
>> Great thanks to Jonathan Lighter whose inquiry led QI to formulate
>> this question and perform this exploration. Lighter pointed to an
>> instance with the phrase “In God we trust – everybody else cash.”
>> Special thanks to Barry Popik and Fred R. Shapiro for their pioneering
>> research. Popik identified a precursor instance with “In God we trust.
>> Terms cash.” Also thanks to discussant Joel S. Berson.
>> [End acknowledgement excerpt]
>>
>> Feedback welcome
>> Garson
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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


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