They Never Said It

Fake quotes, misquotes and misleading attributions (Italian version here) is a short essay that made me stop and think about the role of quotes into the politics and business arena. As the author writes:

Wrong attributions may seem just silly. But they aren?t irrelevant ? even if they are not deliberate cheats. There is a change in perspective when a thought or an opinion is perceived as coming from a different source.
It can be interesting to find that something sounding ?modern? was said or written, with the same meaning, three hundred or three thousand years ago ? or something that seems traditional is actually quite recent.
Or to notice the differences, or similarities, in sayings originated in other, close or remote, environments. Or to discover that ancient (or recent) nonsense (or lies) are being broadly and endlessly repeated without ever checking if they make any sense.
A dirty trick, when there is a disagreement, is to attribute to opponents something they never said ? placing them in the uncomfortable position of having to deny it. Historians are busy trying to sort out problems of this kind.

A rather ample source is They Never Said It, by Paul Boller and John George, published in 1989 by Oxford University Press. A bit old, but still deserving a read.

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