Quotes About Quotes
The Rules of Misquotation:
Axiom 1. Any quotation that can be altered will be.
Corollary 1A: Vivid words hook misquotes in the mind.
Corollary 1B: Numbers are hard to keep straight.
Corollary 1C: Small changes can have a big impact (or: what a difference an a makes).
Corollary 1D: If noted figures don’t say what needs to be said, we’ll say it for them.
Corollary 1E: Journalists are a less than dependable source of accurate quotes.
Corollary 1F: Famous dead people make excellent commentators on current events.
Axiom 2. Famous quotes need famous mouths.
Corollary 2A: Well-known messengers get credit for clever comments they report from less celebrated mouths.
Corollary 2B: Particularly quotable figures receive more than their share of quotable quotes.
Corollary 2C: Comments made about someone might as well have been said by that person.
Corollary 2D: Who you think said something may depend on where you live.
Corollary 2E: Vintage quotes are considered to be in the public domain.
Corollary 2F: In a pinch, any orphan quote can be called a Chinese proverb.
– Ralph Keyes, “Nice Guys Finish Seventh”: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Misquotations (1992)