[Ads-l] Quote: There's rocks all the way down. (turtles, tortoises)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Aug 28 21:24:55 EDT 2018

The list archive contains a few messages about an anecdote with the
punchline "There's turtles all the way down" which fits into a
collection of tales with two other punchlines:

There's tortoises all the way down!
There's rocks all the way down!

"The Yale Book of Quotations" includes a pertinent modern citation
from Stephen W. Hawking. Wikipedia has a nice entry.


I've received a few requests, and when I first explored the topic back
in 2011 I found a citation for the "rocks" variant dated August 18,
1838. Wikipedia presents a slightly later citation dated September 15,
1838 for the "rocks" variant.

Date: August 18, 1838
Periodical: The New-Yorker
Volume 5, Number 22
Periodical Location: New York, New York
Article: Unwritten Philosophy,
Quote Page 344, Column 2
Database: Google Books Full View


[Begin excerpt]
"The world, marm," said I, anxious to display my acquired knowledge,
"is not exactly round, but resembles in shape a flattened orange; and
it turns on its axis once in twenty-four hours."

"Well, I don't know any thing about its axes," replied she, "but I
know it don't turn round, for if it did we'd be all tumbled off; and
as to its being round, any one can see it's a square piece of ground,
standing on a rock."

"Standing on a rock!--but upon what does that stand?"
"Why, on another, to be sure."
"But what supports the last?"
"Lauk! child, how stupid you are!--there's rocks all the way down!"
[End excerpt]


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

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