More early "Murphy-ish" citations (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Tue Jan 8 19:01:38 UTC 2008

Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

I've mentally debated with myself about what makes a citation a
precursor to Murphy's Law (and so far, I'm winning the debate  . . . ).
In a formal paper or article, I'd be much more strict -- a precursor
should be similar in wordage to "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong";
it should be a statement about the general cussedness of the world and
what a bitch Mother Nature is; and it should not describe how things
were, or how an event went, but how things _are_ and _will be_.

But in an informal post like this, I figure it's better to include
something than leave it out, if there is any doubt one way or another.

Plus, since the first one is about polar exploration, it seems related
somehow to mountaineering, which also provided an example of the "Law".
And the third one was interesting to me because it provided another name
for the "Law" (we now have Murphy's Law, Fourth Law of Thermodynamics,
and the Law of Inverse Probabilities -- am I missing any others?)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society
> [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Laurence Horn
> Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 12:51 PM
> Subject: Re: More early "Murphy-ish" citations (UNCLASSIFIED)
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: More early "Murphy-ish" citations (UNCLASSIFIED)
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> -----------------
> I think we need to distinguish the episodic ones (like the
> first two and the last) from the timeless/proverbial ones
> (most of the others), with only the latter being true
> precursors of Murphy.  It's conceivable that the episodic
> ones were intended to allude to a pre-existing proverb or
> dictum, but it's far from certain.
> LH
> At 11:33 AM -0600 1/8/08, Mullins, Bill AMRDEC wrote:
> >Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
> >Caveats: NONE
> >
> >
> >
> >_The Friendly Arctic: The Story of Five Years in Polar Regions_ By
> >Vilhjalmur Stefansson  NY: MacMillan 1921. page 594
> >
> >"It seemed, too, that everything that could possibly go wrong did go
> >wrong and that every chance was decicded against us." [Google books
> >full view]
> >
> >_Inside Europe_ By John Gunther NY: Harper, 1938 p. 330 "Everything
> >that could possibly go wrong went wrong."  [Goggle Books
> Snippet View
> >-- check against hard copy]
> >
> >_The Television Program: Its Direction and Production_ By Edward
> >Stasheff, Rudy Bretz New York: Hill and Wang, 1962 p. 175
> "By the Law
> >of Inverse Probabilities, which states that anything that
> can possibly
> >go wrong will, . . ." [Goggle Books Snippet View -- check
> against hard
> >copy]
> >
> >_The Butcher; the ascent of Yerupaja_ by John Sack;  New York:
> >Rinehart, 1952.  p. 13 "It goes like this: anything that can
> possibly
> >go wrong, does. "
> >[Goggle Books Snippet View -- check against hard copy.  The phrase
> >"possibly go wrong" appears 5 times in the book; most are
> not visible
> >with Google books]
> >
> >_The Sackbut_ v.1:6-9 (1920/21)p. 351
> >"If they can possibly go wrong you can be sure they will." [Goggle
> >Books Snippet View -- check against hard copy]
> >
> >
> >_Writing and Producing the Radio Play_ By Carl Alfred Buss [Thesis].
> >Madison, WI:  Univ of WI, 1933 p. 5.
> >"It always seems that on my busiest days everything that can
> possibly
> >go wrong does."  [Goggle Books Snippet View -- check against
> hard copy]
> >
> >_The Beloved Woman_ By Kathleen Thompson Norris.  Garden City, NY:
> >Doubleday, Page & Co., 1921.  p. 190
> >"She was alert, serious, authoritative; her manner expressed
> an anxious
> >certainty that everything that could possibly go wrong was
> about to do
> >so." [Google books full view]
> >Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
> >Caveats: NONE
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
Classification:  UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

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