ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 3 08:26:31 UTC 2013

A request to trace the quotation about paranoia was sent to me
recently. Before sending a message to the ADS mailing list I checked a
subtitle database that included Catch-22 and was unable to find the
quotation. (Ben noted the absence in subtitles files.) I checked the
list of movie quotations given in the IMDB entry for Catch-22 and the
statement was absent. I checked Wikiquote and could not find a
relevant listing for the expression. These three searches were
indirect and not decisive.

Now I have obtained a copy of the film and watched just the beginning.
The subscript files and scripts online are generally of poor quality.
Words and phrases are omitted.

Here is some dialog that is thematically similar to the quotation. The
key term is "persecution complex" and not "paranoid". The dialog
delivery in the film overlaps, and I do not know all the characters,
so the transcript is rough.

Nately: You don't make any sense.
Unknown: You don't even know who you hate.
Unknown: You've got a persecution complex.
Yossarian: Your damn right I have.
Dobbs: You admit it!
Yossarian: I admit I'm being persecuted.
McWatt: By whom.
Yossarian: By them.
Dobbs: But, who specifically is "them"?
Yossarian: Every one of them!
Dobbs: Everyone of who?
Yossarian: Everyone of who do you think?
Dobbs: I haven't any idea!
Yossarian: Then how do you know they aren't?
Group: Ahhhhh.
McWatt: That's sheer what-do-you-call-it.
Unknown: Sophistry.
McWatt: Right, sophistry.
Yossarian: Like hell it is, McWatt. Those bastards are trying to kill me!
Milo: No one's trying to kill you, sweetheart. Now, eat dessert like a good boy.

I will watch more of the film when I have a chance.


On Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 2:35 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- 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: paranoid
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Jul 2, 2013, at 2:19 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> I checked a couple of closed-caption files on the subtitle site
>> (as Garson has probably done as well), but I didn't see
>> anything vaguely like the line in question. Could it have appeared
>> visually -- as graffiti or something?
>> --bgz
> Or a bumper sticker on someone's car?
> LH
>> On Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 2:00 PM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
>>> I am about 81% certain that I verified this point--but I can't find my pertinent notes.
>>> Somebody is always sneaking into my office and hiding my notes . . . .
>>> --Charlie
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Shapiro, Fred [fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU]
>>> Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 12:53 PM
>>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> This question makes me nervous -- has anyone actually confirmed that this quote
>>> appears in the film?  I'm not sure whether the Dictionary of Modern Proverbs verified
>>> it, or relied on the Yale Book of Quotations citation, which may have come from a
>>> secondary source.
>>> Fred Shapiro
>>> ________________________________________
>>> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
>>> Sent: Sunday, June 30, 2013 10:46 AM
>>> Victor Steinbok wrote way back on May 8, 2011
>>>> I am having a moment of doubt--the line is clearly in the movie version of
>>>> Catch-22 (1970):
>>>> Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.
>>> Victor, Fred, Charlie or anyone: Could you tell me who speaks this
>>> line in the film Catch-22 and when it is spoken ( approximate elapsed
>>> time from the beginning of the film). Thanks.
>>>> But is it in the book (1961, but written over about 8 years)? Because, if it
>>>> isn't...
>>> I have not seen any evidence that the line is in the book Catch-22.
>>> Would be happy to see such evidence (i.e. page number and edition).
>>> Garson
>> --
>> Ben Zimmer
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list