[Ads-l] (Request help with German) Joke: Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 14 20:49:46 UTC 2023

The quip in the subject line is often attributed to Mark Twain. I was
asked to explore its provenance. Way back in January 2010 researcher
Ken Hirsch posted a pertinent message.


Ken located a wonderful 1841 citation in German with an attribution to
Dr. Markus Herz. Ken shared four helpful citations on the Wikipedia
Talk webpage for Twain.


Fred Shapiro included the 1841 citation in his pivotal 2021 reference
“The New Yale Book of Quotations”.

Barry Popik explored the topic and began with the 1841 citation.


Now, I have located several German citations starting in 1817. I am
requesting your help to read the 19th century German font and to
examine the translation. Below are the first two most interesting
citations. The links lead to images of pages containing the
quotations. The periodical names can be seen by scrolling backward.

Are the metadata and text correct? Is the translation ok?

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Date 1817 October 18
Periodical: Der Gesellschafter oder Blätter für Geist und Herz
(The Companion or Pages for Mind and Heart)
Article: Der Schluß folgt (The ending follows)
Quote Page 683, Column 2
Publication: In der Maurerschen Buchhandlung, Berlin, Germany.
Database: Google Books Full View


[Begin excerpt - check for typos]
Zu einem Patienten, dem es zur Gewohnheit geworden war: durch
medizinische Hülfsbücher sich selbst helfen zu wollen, sagte der
verstorbene Dr. Herz: Nehmen Sie sich in Acht, Sie sterben einmal an
einem Druckfehler!
[End excerpt]

[Begin translated excerpt]
The late Dr. Herz said to a patient who had become accustomed to
trying to cure himself with medical manuals: "Be careful, you will die
one day from a printing error!"
[End translated excerpt]

The 1818 citation below is interesting because it specifies the full
name “Marcus Herz”:

Date: 1818 May 27
Periodical: Die Leuchte: ein Zeitblatt für Wissenschaft, Kunst und Leben
(The Lamp: A Journal for Science, Art and Life)
Section: Ufferlei?? aus Abu Taleb's Miscellanenhefte (Offerings from
Abu Taleb's Miscellanea Booklets )
Quote Page 167, Column 2
Publication: Berlin, Germany
Database: Google Books Full View


[Begin excerpt - check for typos]
„Der stirbt noch an einem Druckfehler!” sagte Marcus Herz von einem,
der sich aus Büchern kurirte.
[End excerpt]

[Begin translated excerpt]
“He’ll die of a misprint!” said Marcus Herz of one who cured himself from books.
[End translated excerpt]

Garson O’Toole

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

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