[Ads-l] Early QOTY candidate for 2016

Bill Mullins amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 21 05:03:23 UTC 2016

Fred Shapiro:> I can understand Bill thinking that humanity should be irrelevant to my lists, but I don't understand his dismissal of context.
I was responding to your previous "it may be that I will leave this one out because the context is, another way, contradictory"
I can see cases where context would make sense to consider, and others where it would not.  But my inclination would be that quotes should stand or fall on their own, without much consideration of context, for two reasons.1.  "Good" quotes that are long-lived don't particularly need the context to be memorable2.  If context is important to the quote, then maybe it's not the quote that is memorable, but the situation that it recalls.
Consider "I can see Russia from here" (or whatever the actual quote was).  Palin's statement -- the quotation -- isn't in and of itself particularly memorable.  It only works because of its context.  So is it a memorable quote, or are  the circumstances that gave rise to it outrageous and memorable? 2015's Hillary quote "What, like with a cloth or something?" would go into this category.  Not a great quote, but the situation that it resulted from is what is important.
Compare to the statement from FDR's first inaugural address: "the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself".  Context (the Great Depression) is important to the quote, but it doesn't need context to be a great quote.  It stands on its own.  
I'd bet that the quotes that don't need context are the ones that have a shot at ending up in YBQ, and the ones that do are more reflective of "the spirit of the times", as you put it.  And it may be that YBQ-fodder almost can't be QOTY material -- YBQ-quality quotes may have to ferment for a while before they become generally recognized as good quotes.
But at any rate, I'm not the guy who the AP comes to every December for a list of quotes, so don't pay too much attention to my QOTY insights.
> I don't have a single page archiving all the lists.  Didn't some great guy named Bill Mullins create something like that a few years ago?
Did I?  That sounds familiar.  But a quick search through the archives doesn't yield it.
You'd think the Yale Law Library would give you a little web space to host the lists. 		 	   		  
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list