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An Old Adage Misquoted

a pet peeve

     
3:05 am on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Just saw someone misquote an old saying somewhere on the board. It is most commonly misquoted as "The proof is in the pudding."

The correct saying is "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

All you misquoters out there stop it or I'll revoke your pudding privileges.

lawman

3:09 am on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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That makes me think of "A Christmas Carol" - I thought that was a huge Jello pudding filled football that British people ate on Xmas...
3:40 am on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Who's to say which is correct? The phrase's origin is Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, isn't it? So it was originally written in Spanish; the English versions here could be explained as variations in the translation.

BTW, lawman, you wouldn't like the googlefight results. :)

8:51 am on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Who's to say which is correct? The phrase's origin is Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, isn't it? So it was originally written in Spanish; the English versions here could be explained as variations in the translation.

You gave me pause, JayC. Your sophistry and non-sequiturs caused me to do some actual research. :)

Your conclusion that "the English versions here could be explained as varaiations in the translation" rests upon the assumption that it was originated by Cervantes in the 17th century. This is a commonly held belief.

However, some have traced the origin to the early 14th century, over two hundred years before Cervantes drew his first breath.

Besides, nothing I read supports your conclusion of significant variations in translation from Don Quixote.

Nevertheless, I am just a blind man groping in the darkness hoping to be enlightened.

lawman

Go2

11:45 am on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hear, Hear!

(which, by the way is also commonly misquoted as "Here, Here!". The quote is supposedly an abbreviation for "hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!")

11:58 am on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Tut, tut. Much ado about very little.

But I can't wait to see if the proof is in the pudding or in the eating of aforesaid pudding. If it's in the pudding how can this be verified without first destroying the errant pudding concealing such proof? The important question would then arise: Who hid it there?

My aunt, Miss M. Alprops, may have the answer but the one who laughs last will laugh loud. Or doesn't get the joke. Now I have many miles to go before i snore so I shall depart and wish you God speeding (may He not get a speeding ticket).

For interested party's the Telegraph (UK) has, since yesterday, been currently waging war on mis-used apostrophes'.

12:24 pm on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Agree. If the proof's in it, you'll be eating the proof with it. Makes me think of those cartoons with all kinds of objects hidden inside cakes and pies, why didn't they consider pudding in the first place?

OTOH, if the proof is in the eating, which specific part of the eating is it in? Is it in the "general eating" or in some specific (person's) eating? Is it the joys of such eating or is it just the fact that "an eating" is taking place? And is it just the intake and not the digestion or nutritional value? If so, how large an amount of eating has to take place before the proof is made?

What a mystery... perhaps i should be glad i'm not British..

/claus

1:15 pm on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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This saying has always seemed kind of non-sensical to me...it seems to beg the question and obtrude the problem as the solution, or else simply present a tautology.

Practical example:

"Can a horse walk upside down?" -- "The proof is in the pudding."

This can be taken one of two ways:

1. The proof is in testing to see if the horse can walk upside down.

Rejoinder: This is just a tautology as "proof" is defined as demonstration (which in this case would be testing to see)--the proof, by definition, wouldn't be anywhere else.

2. The proof is in that fact that horses can walk upside down.

Rejoinder: This begs the question. (Not to mention it misuses to term "proof" -- facts, in and of themselves, [bruta factii] cannot be "proof" of anything because they have no context -- they are brute).

That's my gross over-analysis of the idiom. ;)

Jordan

1:24 pm on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'll revoke your pudding privileges.

I'd take Lawman's threat seriously. Because, if we don't eat our pudding, we can't have any meat! How can we have any meat if we don't eat our pudding?!

Thanks for the correction on the phrase. Had no idea what was the right way to say it.

5:45 pm on Aug 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

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What a mystery... perhaps i should be glad i'm not British..

I'm not British either but I do live here and when in Britain I do as the Romans do.

8:23 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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But I can't wait to see if the proof is in the pudding or in the eating of aforesaid pudding. If it's in the pudding how can this be verified without first destroying the errant pudding concealing such proof? The important question would then arise: Who hid it there?

Good points all. But I contend if you eat your pudding carefully (regardless of which of the dozen food items referred to as "pudding" in the UK you are actually eating), not only would you would discover the proof of the pudding itself in the eating thereof, you would also naturally discover if proof of anything else had been hidden in said pudding.

...when in Britain I do as the Romans do.

So what's your take on Hadrian's Wall? Not quite the Great Wall of China, but apparently relevant to your personal British experience nonetheless.
8:32 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have long since given up on the misquoted adages and given pursuit to understanding the properly quoted quotes.

It takes some doing, but it's rewarding to learn what was meant by somoeone saying, "I'll be there with bells on" or, "she can't hold a candle to so and so..."

"The proof is in the pudding" simply doesn't make any sense, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" does makes sense.

The next time you hear someone say that a woman was "dressed to the nines", look up the origin, it might surprise you.

8:43 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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"dressed to the nines"

The first result I came up with ended it's research with "nobody knows"... ;)
9:40 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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~wondering if brakthepoet misquoted the Pink Floyd lyrics on purpose~

"Wrong, Do it again!
If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?
You! Yes, you behind the bikesheds, stand still laddy"

...at least that's what my guitar tab book says.

Lawman... I wish you'd been around here Christmas 1980 or so. My grandfather used to use that misquote, and at all of about ten years old I knew he had it wrong.. and told him so when he used it while we curled up on the couch late at night with steaming bowls of leftover christmas pudding in hand. In response to my correction... he looked at me.. blinked.. grinned.. dove his fingers into his plate of pudding.. and pulled forth a sixpence.

I never bothered to correct him again... but I always chewed grandma's cooking a bit more carefully.

9:56 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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So what's your take on Hadrian's Wall? Not quite the Great Wall of China

You may be able to see the GW of C from space but you can see space when standing on the top of Hadrian's wall. Put that in your hat and eat it you Chinese!

10:42 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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*lol* mivox

>> discover if proof of anything else had been hidden in said pudding.

And at the same time you tell me that there are actually dozens of different edibles referred to as pudding and that they should (all?) be eaten carefully?

Now, wouldn't chemistry provide a better, faster, and more efficient method of proof gathering after all? otoh.. "the proof of the pudding is in the tube"... doesn't sound right, does it?

/claus

10:54 am on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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dove his fingers into his plate of pudding.. and pulled forth a sixpence.

Ah, proof once again -- "All that glisters is not gold."

11:46 pm on Aug 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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And at the same time you tell me that there are actually dozens of different edibles referred to as pudding and that they should (all?) be eaten carefully?

Absolutely. Some more carefully than others.

Although you can stop worrying about Pink Floyd lyrics if you happen to be eating one of the meat-type puddings... Two birds with one stone and all that (...or would it be two birds with one sixpence? Or would it be sixpence, a pocket full of rye and four-and-twenty blackbirds, in which case we'd be talking about pie instead of pudding?).

1:00 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Chiming in late, I have to point out that the most probable interpretation of "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" is that pudding (whichever substance it may be by that name; I never sorted it out when I lived in Britain and was left to conclude that "pudding" was a general name for what we'd term "dessert", besides also being weird pasty things made from dough and sometimes blood) is an innocuous-looking substance, often difficult to manufacture. The only way to know whether the recipe has been successfully implemented is to eat the darn thing and find out if it's any good. So you can complement the chef on the appearance of his pudding all you want, but it doesn't mean anything until or unless you eat it.
So, your page may seem really good, but you don't know until Google eats it and indexes it whether your highfalutin algorithm recipe worked.

As far as "the proof is in the pudding" goes, I suppose it's just shorter and punchier. Like many cliches, people know what you mean by it without understanding the actual phrase at all... I didn't know what the "when in rome..." phrase meant for the longest time.

2:11 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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To me this all seems to imply that you CAN have your proof and eat it too.
5:11 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't want to try and eat a sixpence... so it really would depend on exactly what the proof was.
5:15 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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On the subject of Adages having to do with food and eating:

"want's to have his/her cake and eat it too" is also a common one. Implied is a disdain for one wanting to both have and eat.

Well, what's the use of having cake if one isn't to eat any of it? Kind of like gaining pagerank only to not pass it to one's other sites...

;-)

9:32 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I found this quote somewhere on the boards:

He could care less what I'm wearing.

"Couldn't care less" is correct. :)

lawman

9:48 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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But what if he could care less... just not very much less? ;)
10:16 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Simply stating "Couldn't care less" implies a precision that cannot be attained by the sliding scale "could care less" unless the latter is couched in an explanation.
10:19 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Well, nobody ever said cliches had to be precise...
10:32 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ahh, a point misser. An adage doesn't necessarily have to be quoted precisely. However, to have meaning it must be quoted correctly. I was using the precision imparted by the referenced adage to make a point.
10:43 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Being gratuitously abstruse... they require you to pass training in that during law school, don't they?
11:06 pm on Aug 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I got an A+. :)
6:34 am on Aug 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

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So, as the pudding goes it doesn't have to be the precise pudding, rather it has to be a correct one, right?

Now we're down from eating dozens of unspecified items to finding one that is correct albeit not necessarily the precise one, and eating that it seems.

/claus

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