[Ads-l] Earlier Occurrence of Shaw Quote on Common Language

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 30 10:43:05 EDT 2016

Great citation, Fred. Thanks for sharing it.

I've updated the entry on the Quote Investigator website with this new

I also added a December 1942 citation to a syndicated column by Joseph
Fort Newton containing another variant of the Shavian saying:

[ref] 1942 December 14, The Greensboro Record, Everyday Living by
Joseph Fort Newton, Quote Page 6, Column 3, Greensboro, North
Carolina. (Old Fulton)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
English people knew little of America, and cared less about it. On our
side the case was no better—actually it was worse. Bernard Shaw was
right: "England and America are two countries separated by one
[End excerpt]

Also, included: a bonus thematically related quotation from Bertrand
Russell in 1944:

[ref] 1944 June 3, The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 216 Issue 49, Can
Americans and Britons be Friends? by Bertrand Russell, Start Page 14,
Quote Page 57, Column 2 and 3, Saturday Evening Post Society,
Indianapolis, Indiana. (Ebsco MasterFILE Premier)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two
countries are supposed to have a common language. A Frenchman in
America is not expected to talk like an American, but an Englishman
speaking his mother tongue is thought to be affected and giving
himself airs.
[End excerpt]

[Begin acknowledgement]
Great thanks to Brian Zack whose inquiry led QI to formulate this
question and perform this exploration. Thanks also to Fred R. Shapiro,
Stephen Goranson, and other discussants on the ADS mailing list.
Shapiro located the September 5, 1942 citation and Goranson located
the October 29, 1942 citation. Special thanks to Jeffrey Graf of
Indiana University for accessing the scans of “The Listener”. In
addition, thanks to Oscar Wilde researcher John Cooper who mentioned
the Wilde and Russell quotations.
[End acknowledgement]


On Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 10:21 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu> wrote:
> Normally pushing back the earliest known occurrence of a quotation by a month or two is hardly worthy of notice.  However, my doing so for a well-known quotation of particular importance to linguists may be of interest to some.
> George Bernard Shaw's attributed quotation about England and America as two countries separated/divided by a common language/the same language is often sourced to Reader's Digest, Nov. 1942.  Stephen Goranson pushed it back slightly to The Listener, 29 Oct. 1942.  I now have found another slight antedating:
> "England and America are two countries separated by the same language."
> George Bernard Shaw, Quoted in Christian Science Monitor, 5 Sept. 1942 (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)
> Fred Shapiro
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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