View Full Version : Unattributed quote? misquote?

05-25-2008, 03:02 AM
I hit the following as an unattributed quote:

"Water, water everywhere...but not a drop to drink "

This is a misquotation from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"

Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

05-25-2008, 03:44 AM
It could be right, it depends on who translated it. There are so many times that it says unattributed and I know who may have first said it :)

05-25-2008, 06:34 AM
Translate? Depends on how you define that.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was English and wrote "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" in English, albeit sometimes archaic English.

Actually the 1798 version, according to one website, had the verse:

Water, water every where,
Ne any drop to drink.

Most versions will now render the "ne" as "nor".

The title from 1798 was rendered as: "The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere".

05-26-2008, 06:23 PM
It's like Bible versions.

05-26-2008, 07:24 PM
You do understand that the Bible was not written in English?

It was written in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Bible indeed must be translated, and while there is a great deal of research and commentary to guide those translations, they are true translations from one language to another.

Coleridge, like Shakespeare, wrote in semi-modern English, sometimes using words that are no longer in common use in the present day. One may substitute the occasional modern word for the archaic one, but I would not think of that as a translation. Chaucer is a different matter, since he wrote in middle English and his word forms, words, etc are materially different from modern English.

05-27-2008, 03:01 AM
You can now have the last word.

10-16-2008, 03:36 PM
Today I came across the following:

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
- Unattributed

I realize this is not the complete bible verse (John 8:7, I think). Translations vary, but this seems a contracted version of a very well known verse.

10-16-2008, 09:04 PM
One may substitute the occasional modern word for the archaic one, but I would not think of that as a translation.

Would you call it a paraphrase then?

Water, water everywhere... but not a drop to drink.
My grandmother often spoke these words, exactly as quoted above. Most likely she heard the expression in her youth (early 20th century).

So I think this unattributed version gained a life of its own, long ago, independent of its source.

Then again... I never knew the exact quotation or whence it came. Only the vernacular corruption.

Thank you!


10-17-2008, 03:27 AM
Paraphrase is a fair description.

Being old enough to have studied Rime of the Ancient Mariner in school, I remembered the source.

10-17-2008, 10:46 PM
Being old enough to have studied Rime of the Ancient Mariner in school, I remembered the source.

Old enough, too, not to dangle your participles or misplace modifiers.

We must be a dying breed.

I learned grammar but somehow missed English lit.

If only I could have foreseen how memorizing literary classics would prove advantageous 40 years later while solving cryptograms...

10-28-2008, 01:16 AM
Thought I'd jump in with another unattributed quote. :)

'Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today' is a Lewis Carroll quote from Through the Looking Glass.

Complete quote:

`The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday -- but never jam

10-29-2008, 01:56 AM
That seems to be quite a contradiction, since yesterday's jam was today's jam yesterday, and tomorrow's jam will be today's jam tomorrow. But such contradiction seemed to be the rule for many of the characters of Wonderland, and the intention of Lewis Carroll. Here's a quote that I've encountered on this site that seems to contradict:

"Love conquers all, but if love doesn't do it, try hard work "

If love conquers all, then naturally there would be no instances where "love doesn't do it." Unlike Lewis Carroll, this quote seems to be poorly said unintentionally. That's probably why it's unattributed--s/he doesn't seem to have been a great thinker. Can anyone else contribute to this thread a contradictory quote they have seen on this site?


11-10-2008, 12:35 AM
Take a look at this misattribution I just found:

"Source: Pope John Paul XXIII"


Only twenty-one more to go!

11-13-2008, 04:13 AM
And how about this one:

"Whoever said Marriage is a 5-5 proposition laid the foundation for more divorce fees than any other short sentence in our language."
— Austin Elliot


No wonder there are so many divorces. People are really slacking off if all they give is 5 instead of 50.


I definitely don't want a spouse who will just give me five.

12-31-2008, 08:30 PM
"Dream the impossible dream, Fight the unbeatable foe, Strive with your last ounce of courage To reach the unreachable star. "

This was listed as unattributed, isn't it by Cervantes or is it lyrics from Man of La Mancha? Then it should be attributed to Joe Darion. Just wondering...

01-01-2009, 12:46 AM
This seems to be a paraphrase of the actual lyrics to the song from "Man of La Mancha." I found two sites that that actually have the same wording as does Stephen's quote. One is someone's myspace personal page and the other is a quote site that does attribute it to Joe Darion, but makes no reference to the musical and no mention that it's from a song.



01-01-2009, 03:22 AM
It says right on the picture, "lyrics by Joe Darion." Implying a song. Thanks for finding it.


01-06-2009, 05:26 AM
When in charge ponder. When in trouble delegate. When in doubt mumble.

At least two sites attribute this to James H. Boren.

01-14-2009, 06:36 PM
Here's one that hits all the bases - it's a sentence fragment, "unattributed" although written by F Scott Fitzgerald, and it has several interesting letter patterns (millimeter isn't in the terrific word list cited by maradnu at http://fiziwig.com/crypto/pword.txt)

"Her body calculated to a millimeter to suggest a bud yet guarantee a flower. "
— Unattributed

It's from Tender Is the Night:
It took him a moment to respond to the unguarded sweetness of her smile, her body calculated to a millimeter to suggest a bud yet guarantee a flower.

I find the quotes to be thought-provoking sometimes, and it can be educational to know who wrote them. I was motivated to look up Eric Hoffer (who I had never heard of) after seeing a quote from him. It was a sentence or two from this (I don't remember exactly):

There is in us a tendency to locate the shaping forces of our existence outside ourselves. Success and failure are unavoidably related in our minds with the state of things around us. Hence it is that people with a sense of fulfillment think it a good world and would like to conserve it as it is, while the frustrated favor radical change. The tendency to look for all causes outside ourselves persists even when it is clear that our state of being is the product of personal qualities such as ability, character, appearance, health and so on.

01-23-2009, 06:26 AM
Oh, I just wing 'em!