[Ads-l] Quote: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Request help accessing Harvard Alumni Bulletin in 1963

dave@wilton.net dave at WILTON.NET
Sun Sep 24 16:49:23 UTC 2023

I've requested a scan. May take a few days to recall the volume from storage and scan it.
-----Original Message-----
From: "Ben Zimmer" <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2023 11:51am
Subject: Re: [ADS-L] Quote: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. Request help accessing Harvard Alumni Bulletin in 1963

If it helps to narrow down the search, I'm pretty sure the article appears
in the Nov. 23, 1963 issue of the Harvard Alumni Bulletin (Vol. 66, No. 5),
as snippet view suggests that issue begins on p. 201.

On Sat, Sep 23, 2023 at 7:24 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>

> Way back in 2010 there was a discussion on this list about the
> expression in the subject line. Also, in 2010 I created an article on
> this topic. Now, I plan to revise the article. The line has been
> attributed to Groucho Marx, but he probably did not say it.
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/04/time-flies-arrow/
> Your help is requested to access a volume of the "Harvard Alumni
> Bulletin" and to verify a pertinent Google snippet match. The goal is
> to obtain a complete and accurate citation. Here is the incomplete
> unverified data:
> Year: 1963
> Periodical: Harvard Alumni Bulletin
> Quote Page 205
> https://books.google.com/books?id=-LflAAAAMAAJ&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=%22fruit+flies%22
> [Begin excerpt]
> These possibilities do not make
> much sense to a human; but they are
> syntactically correct, and the com-
> puter blindly produces all of these
> simply because it has not been taught,
> for example, that there is no such
> species of fly as "time flies." The
> computer could be "trained," of
> course, not to parse such a sentence
> the way it did. But then the machine
> could not correctly handle a sentence
> like "Fruit flies like bananas."
> [End excerpt]
> Here is a list of the desired metadata: Periodical name, year, month,
> article title, article author, publisher, start page of the article,
> page number of the quotation. It would be nice to have scans or photos
> showing: the full article containing the quotation, the periodical
> name, the publisher, the month, the year.
> The revised QI article will present some additional citations.
> Bill Mullins kindly sent me a valuable lead, a pointer to a book page
> that listed a citation in Fortune magazine. The citation was dated May
> 1960; however, my attempt to verify the citation has led me to
> conclude that the year 1960 is incorrect. Instead, the pertinent
> passage appeared in Fortune magazine in May 1964.
> [ref] 1964 May, Fortune, Machines That Man Can Talk With by John
> Pfeiffer, Start Page 153, Quote Page 194, (Series: Part III: The
> Boundless Age of the Computer) Time Inc., Chicago, Illinois. (Verified
> with scans) [/ref]
> [Begin excerpt]
> Conversations between man and machine will always be somewhat stilted
> until we have a computer that can understand idioms and interpret the
> particular meaning of a word or a sentence with several possible
> meanings. This is still a long way off, but a program written by
> Anthony Oettinger and Susumu Kuno of Harvard’s Computation Laboratory
> permits a computer to list all possible meanings.
> “Time flies like an arrow” may seem fairly straightforward to us, but
> a machine sees a number of other possibilities—for example, “Time the
> speed of flies as quickly as you can” (“time” being interpreted as a
> verb rather than a noun) and “Certain flies enjoy an arrow” (“time”
> being interpreted as an adjective, and “like” being interpreted as a
> verb). The machine could be instructed to rule out these particular
> offbeat parsings, but how would it handle the sentence, “Fruit flies
> like bananas”? Problems of semantics continue to plague investigators
> concerned with advanced man-machine communications.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson

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

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

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