"Walk the talk" antedated to 1957

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Wed Apr 29 16:27:51 UTC 2009

Today's headline said the now-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter will have to
"walk the talk" when it comes to voting, which reminded me of the possible
idiom-blending -- or idiom-compression -- of "talk the talk, and walk the
walk" or variants thereof. I see that the earliest attestation noted here is
one from 1984, found by Ben Zimmer:

Seattle Times, Dec 3, 1984, p. C11 (Factiva)
The blackboard in the Juanita Rebels' Kingdome locker room said it all after
their 41-27 Class AAA title game win over South Kitsap. "WE WALKED OUR

This was in a 2005 message, from the days before Google Books. Here are a
couple of pre-1984 examples I found there:

Company Execs and S&H Must Walk the Talk
(Occupational Hazards. By Health Reference Center, 1962, p. 11)

The challenge for the government will be to walk the talk and be transparent
and non-political in its decision-making.
(Middle East Economic Digest, 1957, p. 51)

These examples were pretty isolated; the 1957 one was the only one from the
50s, even after checking for "walking", "walked" and "walks". Example were
much more plentiful in the 1970s and 1980s. I haven't checked to compare
with the earliest appearance of "walk the walk" and "talk the talk".

Neal Whitman
Email: nwhitman at ameritech.net
Blog: http://literalminded.wordpress.com

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

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