Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire! (1970)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 8 18:58:17 UTC 2003

At 2:54 PM -0400 9/8/03, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>>I prefer my wife's, at least for the traditional association of long
>>noses and liars (which at least gives me a reading).

another possibility via google (which favors the Preston household
version, with the slight variants "your nose is longer than a
telephone wire", as well as the footloose "nose is longer than a
copper telephone wire", which scans worse than Ogden Nash) is the
nicely graphic

"...hang them up on a telephone wire"
"...hanging from a telephone wire"

But I agree that the nose-length one is more semantically motivated,
besides which I'm not sure why one would drape a burning pair of
trousers over the telephone wire, even if copper is a good insulator.
Did the prevarication/nose length correlation antedate Pinocchio, I


>>Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>>>  The full form (as I am told by mu wife, Milwaukee, childhood memory
>>>  from early 50s) is
>>>  Liar, liar, pants on fire
>>>  Nose as long as a telephone wire.
>>>  Us Louisvillians had no such pome.
>>The version I remember (I was an Army brat, so I can't localize it, but
>>the time would be the mid-'60s) had, as the second line, "Can't get over
>>the telephone wire".
>>Jim Parish
>Dennis R. Preston
>University Distinguished Professor
>Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
>      Asian & African Languages
>Michigan State University
>East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
>e-mail: preston at
>phone: (517) 432-3099

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