Safire on "Long Pole in the Tent"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Sat Jan 5 14:18:02 UTC 2008

On Sat, Jan 05, 2008 at 09:05:16AM -0500, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> In tomorrow's "On Language" column in the New York Times
> Magazine, William Safire writes about the expression "the
> long pole in the tent."  He quotes me about a 1970 citation,
> then quotes Joan Hall about a 1947 usage in a Senate Armed
> Services Committee report.  This ostensible 1947 citation is
> a classic Google Books
> taking-the-beginning-date-of-a-serial-as-the-date-of-the-snippet
> error.  In fact, Google Books indicates that the snippet is
> from the 92nd Congress, which places the true dating of the
> usage in the 1971-73 range.

Not only that, but I specifically told his researcher that the
"1947" example on Google Books appeared to be from the early
1970s, and that he should get in touch with Fred to see if there
were any provably earlier examples in goverment documents.

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

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