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Unique Language Lives On in Quotation Collection

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Unique Language Lives On in Quotation Collection


Unique Language Lives On in Quotation Collection

Unique Language Lives On in Quotation Collection

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The words of Donald Rumsfeld are part of a huge new collection of quotations, The Yale Book of Quotations. It's full of wisdom from pundits through the ages.


One of the newest places to find the words of Donald Rumsfeld is the fat, new Yale Book of Quotations, a properly bookish looking book where the defense secretary is sandwiched between poet Muriel Rukeyser and writer Damon Runyon.


But don't feel you have to turn right to the R's because the joy of reading this new book of quotations is just leafing all the way through it. You get to feel scholarly and stupid at the same time. That latter part is easier for some of us. You may stumble right across the phrase brave new world and realize it was first written by Shakespeare.

MONTAGNE: The new book is also full of popular culture. Political slogans like where's the beef? Catch phrases from TV, movies and music on the radio.

INSKEEP: So right after the last word from Shakespeare comes a perfectly rhyming couplet from the rapper Tupac Shakur.

(Soundbite of song "California Love")

Mr. TUPAC SHAKUR (Rapper): (Singing) California knows how to party. California knows how to party in the city of L.A. In the city of good ol' Watts. In the city, city of Compton we keep it rockin'...

INSKEEP: Well, maybe not perfectly rhyming. He says in the city of Compton we keep it rockin'.

MONTAGNE: In another part of the book, Galileo, John Kenneth Galbraith and Zsa Zsa Gabor all share the same page, probably the only thing they have in common. Melville is next to John Mellencamp. Kurt Vonnegut comes right out of Voltaire.

INSKEEP: Okay, so in an attempt to give you the full leafing effect, we're going to back off for a minute and try to create on the radio the complete and unabridged leaf through the Yale Book of Quotations.

MONTAGNE: So can we cue the leaves, please?

(Soundbite of pages turning)

Unidentified Male #1: It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking 13.

The first line from 1984 from George Orwell.

Unidentified Male #2: History is the sum total of all the things that could have been avoided.

Former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Unidentified Male #3: I can't believe I ate the whole thing.

Line from a TV ad.

Unidentified Female #1: You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.

Jeannette Rankin, first woman in Congress.

Unidentified Male #4: The average man doesn't want to be free; he wants to be safe.

H.L. Mencken.

Unidentified Female #2: The trouble with a rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat.

Lily Tomlin and others.

(Soundbite of song "Jack and Diane")

Mr. JOHN MELLENCAMP (Singer): (Singing) Oh, yeah, life goes on. Long after the thrill of livin' is gone they walk on...

Unidentified Male #5: (Reading) Love conquers all things. Let us, too, give in to love.


Unidentified Male #6: Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. And at night the ice weasels come.

Cartoonist Matt Groening.

Unidentified Female #3: Good girls go to heaven; bad girls go everywhere.

Helen Gurley Brown.

Unidentified Male #7: I never forget a face, but I'm going to make an exception in your case.

Groucho Marx.

Unidentified Female #4: When you look like your passport photo, it's time to go home.

Erma Bombeck.

MONTAGNE: A brief leaf through the new and very modern Yale Book of Quotations. Quoting gets addictive, so it's hard to close without adding this subversive comment from Ralph Waldo Emerson: I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.

INSKEEP: In spite of that frustration, let's throw in one more indispensable quote from William Strunk in The Elements of Style: Omit needless words.

MONTAGNE: Unless, of course, they happen to be yours.

INSKEEP: And, by the way, you have a chance to send us some of your words. You can send your own notable quotes about what you hear on MORNING EDITION, and you can decide which words might be needless or not. Just go to and click on Contact Us. You can quote us on that.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

MONTAGNE: And I'm Renee Montagne.

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