Liars Figure (1892); Illegal, Immoral, Fattening (1936); Hash Brownies

Thu Apr 15 13:49:42 UTC 2004

        So when is the Quotation Dictionary coming out, Fred?  An eager audience awaits you!

        I think we're at a point where we can make a few observations about "bargaining chip":

        1.      There is no connection with poker.  Poker is not a bargaining game, and few if any of the citations refer to or suggest poker in any way.

        2.      All of the early citations come from international relations and labor relations - areas in which negotiation as a science has been closely studied.  It would seem likely that the phrase was originated by an early writer on the science of negotiation, but evidence for such an origin is lacking.

        3.      The phrase suggests that chips represent things that can be traded away in order to receive more valuable concessions.  This in turn suggests an analogy from either a trading practice or a bargaining game that uses chips, but no one has identified a trading practice or a bargaining game as a plausible candidate.

        4.      There is no early evidence for "bargaining chit."

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Fred Shapiro
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 7:56 AM
Subject: Re: Liars Figure (1892); Illegal, Immoral, Fattening (1936);
Hash Brownies

In general, though, Barry's recent postings have been knocking off the
coinage-stories of a number of famous quotations, really quite stunning
work.  Another way of putting it: Barry has made more significant
quotation discoveries in the past week than Bartlett's has in the last few
decades.  Really.  Keep up the great work, Barry!

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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