[Ads-l] Optimist: The glass is half full. Pessimist: The glass is half empty

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 8 14:00:27 UTC 2022

James Landau: Thanks for searching and sharing your discoveries.

While researching this topic I encountered several variant jokes. Now,
your message, SJ's message, and other feedback have inspired me to
post a Quote Investigator article about one evolving family of variant
jokes in which the glass is the wrong size.

Major comedians Steve Martin and George Carlin have received credit
for instances in this family. Here is a link to the QI article:

Optimist: The Glass Is Half Full.
Pessimist: The Glass Is Half Empty.
Comedian: The Glass Is the Wrong Size


The QI article has an initial citation in 1977 saying "the glass is
too big". In 1979 Steve Martin was credited with saying "maybe the
glass is simply the wrong size". In 1984 George Carlin was credited
with saying "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be".

Barry Popik has a webpage about the "engineer" variant. He located a
1990 citation.

The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be (Sep. 27, 1990)

Here are links to other variants Barry Popik has explored.

Glass half empty or half full?  Either way, you need more wine! Wink
(Oct. 26, 2008)

If you see the glass as half empty, pour it into a smaller glass (Aug, 13, 2012)

I’m not so much a “glass half empty” or “glass half full” kind of
person. More a “where did I put my glass?” (Apr 13, 2016)

Feedback welcome
Garson O'Toole

On Thu, Apr 7, 2022 at 3:28 PM James Landau
<00000c13e57d49b8-dmarc-request at listserv.uga.edu> wrote:
> On Wed, 6 Apr 2022 12:03:19 Zone - 0400  ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> <quote>  I received a request to explore the saying in the subject line. A
> related saying says "The glass is either half empty or half full".<end  quote>
> A variation: there is added "the engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be".
> Google Books gives three citations from what it claims to be 2000, but none of the 2000 dates are checkable.  (One has a copyright page with no date on it!)    There are a number of snippet hits from the 1990's which I did not bother to check out.
> There are five hits from 2001.  Choosing one at random:
> https://www.google.com/books/edition/Science_Askew/Bs6fBwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq="glass+is+twice+as+big"&pg=PA178&printsec=frontcover
> Science Askew: A Light-hearted Look at the Scientific World
> books.google.com › booksDonald E Simanek, ‎John. Holden · 2001
> page 178 <quote>To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be
>  Doing the impossible In these days, a man who says a thing cannot be done is quite apt to be interrupted by some idiot doing it. Elbert Green Hubbard (1856–1915) U.S. author .<end quote>..
> Variations: rather than "engineer", one hit says "tbe design team" and one says "the consultant"
> Science Askew - Google Books
> James Landau
> jjjrlandau at netscape.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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