Can I Quote You On That? May 2, 2014

by RICK RADER, MD * EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

I'm not sure if it's appropriate to start an editorial on quotes with a quote, but I quote, "A quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business." A.A. Milne, the author of this quote (about quotes) was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various children's poems. I had to throw in that attribution in accordance with the American Psychological Association's (APA) Style manual on using quotes. And I quote, "If you use the same words as the original author (or authors) it is called a direct quote and you must communicate this to your readers. If you are using another person's words, but fail to indicate that you are doing so, it can be considered plagiarism even if you include a parenthetical reference at the end of the passage." While we're at it, my favorite plagiarism quote is from John Burke, "If you steal from one author, it's plagiarism. If you steal from two, it's research."

My interest and fasciantion with quotes was probably influenced by my fourth grade teacher who insisted that we use at least one quote in our compositions. Ernest Hemingway, who knew a thing or two about writing, was fond of saying, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." In virtually every one of my 170 odd editorials in EP (Exceptional Parent) Magazine, I threw in a quote. They take up space, in addition to imparting brilliance, not to mention an air of sophistication.

Sometimes, "using quotes in articles is the equivalent of including puppies in illustrations." The American painter Norman Rockwell was fond of quipping, "If a picture wasn't' going very well, I'd put a puppy in it." He did, and the public loved them.

Much of the American fashion of using quotes is attributable to a young bibliophile named John Bartlett who is best known for his book, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (not sure who was familiar with them as they represented over 258 pages by 169 authors, chiefly from the Bible, William Shakespeare and the great English poets). That was in the first edition published in 1855. The current 18th edition contains 1, 472 pages and includes more than 25,000 quotations from more than 2,500 authors. Interestingly enough, the tag line of the original book was almost never quoted, "A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature." Bartlett's life was all about books; he was reading at age three and, by the time he was nine, he had read the entire Bible. He started to work in, and eventually owned the University Bookstore that served Harvard. He was known for his memory for quotations and trivia, "Ask John Bartlett" became a byword in the community when someone was stumped (this last sentence was technically plagarized from an article on Bartlett that I didn't properly cite).

The new edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations includes quotes from modern popular culture. In fact the new edition has eliminated many obscure quotes from Asian and Egyptian origin. To demonstrate that "quotes" remain a dynamic medium and must reflect popular usage, consider that Alexander Pope, the 18th century satirist now has 138 entries, down from 149 in the 16th edition. The current editor of Bartlett's explains this in his quote, "You just don't hear people quoting him on the street." Former President Bill Clinton's famous quote, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is," is included in the current edition. Historical events often impact on the recognition of memorable quotes. President Reagan's famous "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," made it into the current edition and first on the list for the next edition will be Todd Beamer's "Let's roll," the battle cry of September eleventh.

So the word is out that Dr. Rader loves quotes and the buzz among some of my students is "throw in a quote and you're golden." Recently my Special Education students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga presented their final case studies. For the entire semester, these students have been embedded in our special education classes where they have had both the privilege and challenge of "shadowing" selected students with complex intellectual and neurodevelopmenatl disabilities. The "final case presentation" is their opportunity to share their experience and demonstrate their knowledge of the individual against the backdrop of the educational goals and objectives, outcomes and plans for the future of that student.

This year, one of them scored with their quote. Stephen Roberts ended his presentation with a slide that refuted a well known quote (often heard by front line caregivers in the disability arena), "It takes a special kind of person to care for a child with special needs."

He displayed that quote with a red "X" across it. He offered a new revised one; and since he didn't provide the attribution to it, according to the guidelines of the American Psychological Association's Style Book, I will attribute it to him. I offer it to readers of Exceptional Parent Magazine as the 2014 Quote of the Semester:

"A child with special needs will inspire you to be a special kind of person." Stephen Roberts

Truer words were never spoken, or quoted.

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