Possible Anachronism in Lincoln

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 3 05:08:30 UTC 2012

On Sun, Dec 2, 2012 at 9:03 PM, Baker, John wrote:
> In the new Steven Spielberg film Lincoln, at one point a political
> operator is so surprised to see the President that he says, "Well, I'll be
> fucked."  My impression is that this is an anachronistic or at least unlikely
> thing for someone to say in 1865, but what say the experts?

In my Boston Globe column on the language of "Lincoln", I note
(obliquely) that Jesse Sheidlower considers this to be anachronistic.
There's one other anachronistic F-bomb from the same character (W.N.
Bilbo): "Fuck you, you son of a bitch!"


Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> I point out the character is a New Yorker, which may affect the analysis.

Actually, even though he was part of the Albany-based "Seward lobby,"
the historical Bilbo was from Nashville, and James Spader plays him as
a Southerner.


Ben Zimmer

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

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