[Ads-l] Bogus Andrew Johnson quote?

Geoffrey Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Fri May 5 16:14:21 EDT 2017

Although I can't date this with any precision, I know I heard the phrase in the nineteen seventies, probably at a libertarian gathering, probably in Hawaii. But the number was 24, not 12. 



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From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Friday, May 5, 2017 2:20 PM
Subject: Bogus Andrew Johnson quote?
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Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
Subject:      Bogus Andrew Johnson quote?

The New Yorker quotes AJ that Washington, DC, is "twelve square miles
bordered by reality."

Despite the usual zillion raw Google hits, my Spidey-sense says fat chance.
And GB reveals nothing before 2008.

I doubt that any 19th C. person would have been likely to say that any
physical location was "bordered by reality."

If Johnson had said it, we should heard about it long before 2008.

Its form reminds me, somehow, of a recent, well-known, witticism that I
cannot bring to mind.

Has Barry or Garson looked into this?


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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