Tag Archives: attribution

Problems with Misquoting Someone

While researching a quote this morning, I seem to have located some plagiarism from 1965. Now I could be wrong, but if I am not, this is somewhat a fairly blatant case of it.

In 1962, the journalist Eric Sevareid wrote an article entitled, “Take Heaven, Take Peace, Take Joy” (http://memory.loc.gov/service/mss/eadxmlmss/eadpdfmss/2001/ms001003.pdf). By doing a simple search of his name and the title you can find references to it.

However, on Dec 17th, 1965 the newspaper “Kentucky New Era” (Hopkinsville, KY) published the same article on their editorial page stating that someone named “Jessie Hall from 2813 South Virginia Street” wrote it (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=0N-VGjzr574C&dat=19651217&printsec=frontpage&hl=en).

This appears to be plagiarism, clear and simple. But I’d be interested in the story behind it. Why did they claim Jessie Hall wrote it? Did Jessie Hall (whoever this is) claim he or she wrote it or was it a miscommunication?

One of the problems of the internet is how a quote can be wrongly cited and how quickly that spreads. A good example of this is is the quote section of the website “Goodreads” (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/giving). On this page you will see a quote that is attributed to both Amy Wilson-Carmichael AND Robert Louis Stevenson. The Stevenson quote is four quotes below the exact. same Carmichael quote. Quote websites are notorious for misquotes and it annoys me to no end. People come along, read the quote, love it, and post it elsewhere or use it in papers or speeches and think they’ve done the right thing.

Moral of the story: When you are searching for a quote to use in a speech or a paper, please ensure you find the absolute source for it and then quote it correctly. I will now get off my soapbox and return you to your regularly scheduled programming.