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Date:         Tue, 6 Jul 2004 23:21:27 -0400
Reply-To:     American Dialect Society <[log in to unmask]>
Sender:       American Dialect Society Mailing List <[log in to unmask]>
From:         Fred Shapiro <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:      Re: "Plural of anecdote is data" (Ray Wolfinger)
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In-Reply-To:  <[log in to unmask]>
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On Tue, 6 Jul 2004 [log in to unmask] wrote: > Nelson W. Polsby PS, Vol. 17, No. 4. (Autumn, 1984), pp. 778-781. Pg. > 779: Raymond Wolfinger's brilliant aphorism "the plural of anecdote is > data" never inspired a better or more skilled researcher. I e-mailed Wolfinger last year and got the following response from him: "I said 'The plural of anecdote is data' some time in the 1969-70 academic year while teaching a graduate seminar at Stanford. The occasion was a student's dismissal of a simple factual statement--by another student or me--as a mere anecdote. The quotation was my rejoinder. Since then I have missed few opportunities to quote myself. The only appearance in print that I can remember is Nelson Polsby's accurate quotation and attribution in an article in PS: Political Science and Politics in 1993; I believe it was in the first issue of the year." I also e-mailed Polsby, who didn't know of any early printed occurrences. What is interesting about this saying is that it seems to have morphed into its opposite -- "Data is not the plural of anecdote" -- in some people's minds. Mark Mandel used it in this opposite sense in a private e-mail to me, for example. Fred Shapiro -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Fred R. Shapiro Editor Associate Librarian for Collections and YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS Access and Lecturer in Legal Research Yale University Press, Yale Law School forthcoming e-mail: [log in to unmask] --------------------------------------------------------------------------

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