View Full Version : A "Source this quote!" thread of my very own
Malleus, Incus, Stapes!
07-11-2009, 10:31 PM
"What is this _____ you speak of?"
I see references all the time. Some cheesy sci-fi movie, I'm guessing?
Malleus, Incus, Stapes!
07-11-2009, 10:58 PM
No wait, sorry, I knew I shouldn't be typing this late at night. :smack: The quote in question is, "What is this ___ of which you speak?"
07-11-2009, 11:09 PM
Well, while googling I found a mention here (http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2006/06/08/etymology-what-is-this-you-speak-of/), which led to here (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002285.html) and here (http://18.104.22.168/~myl/languagelog/archives/002289.html).
The origin seems to be in the collective memory of big-screen and small-screen science fiction from the '50s and '60s. It has the sound of a clichéd line spoken by an alien to a human exploring other planets (often the vocative "earthling" is appended). In such "first contact" scenes, aliens can of course speak perfect English yet lack certain key concepts and their associated significations, which the humans can then explain. (It's also possible to imagine the line spoken in intra-human settings involving time travel, lost tribes, unfrozen cavemen, etc.)
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It's probably just a spurious quotation, along the lines of "Play it again, Sam" or "Judy, Judy, Judy" (or for that matter "Beam me up, Scotty").
07-11-2009, 11:41 PM
Yeah, I think it's just a parody of the whole sf clueless-alien-who-asks-about-something-blindingly-obvious-to-you-and-me meme. I've seen and read a lot of sf over the years, and I can't recall anyone actually using that phrase. Close to it in the original Star Trek, and Data said some roughly similar things in ST:TNG, but never that particular phrase.
07-12-2009, 11:24 AM
Any ideas on "I know it's crazy but it just might work!"?
07-12-2009, 12:00 PM
I think the phrase in the OP can be classified as a snowclone.
07-12-2009, 04:05 PM
"Judy, Judy, Judy" isn't spurious. At most, it's leaves out some words. Cary Grant said "Judy" often in Only Angels Have Wings
07-12-2009, 04:10 PM
Peter Bogdanovich believes that the genesis of the imitation came from Grant's delivery in several lines in Only Angels Have Wings.. 'In the film his former girl friend is called Judith or Judy (played by Rita Hayworth). Cary has lines like "Hello, Judy. Come on, Judy. Now, Judy." But he never said "Judy, Judy, Judy." '
[Cary Grant]: We looked up track after track and outtake after outtake. As far as we can tell, I never said it. We think it started with a celebrity impersonator by the name of Larry Storch. He apparently was appearing in a nightclub and doing me when Judy Garland walked in. And that's how he greeted her.
07-13-2009, 12:08 PM
It sounds like something General Zod might have said in Superman II.
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