Quote: If it ain't broke, don't fix it! (antedating1973 October 25)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 10 20:39:57 UTC 2010

Charlie: Thanks for sharing that excellent entry for "If it ain't
broke, don't fix it" from the impressive forthcoming Yale Book of
Modern Proverbs. Do you know if the Yale Press is looking into
following the path of the Oxford Press and licensing electronic
reference databases to libraries?

It would be great if more library patrons could enter a library card
number and access high-quality databases of quotations and proverbs.

The 1964 citation in "Approach: The Naval Aviation Safety Review" can
be seen in full view at HathiTrust. The article seems to be a reprint
from an issue of McDonnell Aircraft Field Support Digest. You no doubt
know this, but I mention it in case some reader fortuitously has a
stack of old Digests nearby.



On Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 7:09 AM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: Quote: Â If it ain't broke, don't fix it! (antedating1973
> Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â  Â October 25)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Back a bit further:
> If it ain't broke (isn't broken), don't (why) fix it.  1964  Anon., "Notes and Comments on Maintenance," _Approach: The Naval Aviation Safety Review_ 9, no. 10 (Apr.) 42:  "But be sure it's real leakage that you're measuring.  As someone recently said, 'if it ain't broke don't fix it.'"  1968  James K. Van Fleet, _Guide to Managing People_ (West Nyack NY: Parker) 159:  "If It Ain稚 Broke邑hy Fix It?" (section heading); the section ends, "If you had an alarm clock that was still running well and had gotten you up every morning on time for the last twenty years, would you suddenly decide to take it apart and check just to see if it would ring for sure tomorrow morning? I wouldn't either.  _So if it ain't broke妖on't fix it!_" (italics as shown).  1973  _Implementation of Transportation Controls: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution . . . Senate_ (Washington  DC: Government Printing Office, 1974) 259; Senator Jack L. Gockel speaks:  "I mig!
 ht add that the a!
>  verage cost for the tuneups performed on 300 cars was only $27, and the reason why the cost was so low was that the criteria of, if it isn't broke, don't fix it, was the main criteria that we taught."  In the form "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," the saying has often been attributed to Bert Lance; however, the earliest record of his use of  the expression appeared in the _Washington Post_ on Dec. 1976.   ODP 38, RHDP 152, YBQ Lance, DAAP 109; Flavell (1993) 30-31, Rees (1995) 238, Pickering (2001) 58, Rees (2006) 329.
> --Charlie
> ________________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Garson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
> Sent: Thursday, December 09, 2010 9:40 PM
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Fred Shapiro discusses this quote at the "Quotes Uncovered" blog
> today. Bert Lance, an administrator under Jimmy Carter, was a locus of
> popularization, and the earliest known cites are in 1976 shortly
> before Lance used it.
> http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/quotes-uncovered-if-it-aint-broke/
> Barry Popik has a webpage on the quote that includes some interesting
> variants that occurred earlier, e.g., IF WE CAN探 FIX ITæ‚ T AIN探
> http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/if_it_aint_broke_dont_fix_it/
> Here is a citation in 1973 that I just located. The prefixed mention
> of "Murph" may be a reference to Murphy's Law:
> Cite: 1973 October 25, Hamburg Reporter, Free standing quote in
> Hansen's Food Market advertisement, Page 3, Hamburg, Iowa.
> (NewspaperArchive)
> Murph sez: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
> Garson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list