QUOTATION: We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

WHERE IT APPEARED

In the short story:

​

The Canterville Ghost, 1887

​

[Describing Mrs Otis]

Indeed, in many respects, she was quite English, and was an excellent example of the fact that we have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.

​

The Court and Society Review in two parts Vol. IV, No. 138, February 23, 1887, pp. 183--186 [Mason, 12]. Vol. IV, No. 139, March 2, 1887, pp. 207--211 [Mason, 13]

​

Mason, 12, 13

Bibliography of Oscar Wilde

by Stuart Mason, 1914

LONDON | T. WERNER LAURIE LTD.

IN CONTEXT—A GENEALOGY OF ATTRIBUTION

This is a chronology of attribution in print and makes no claim as to the origin of the thought beyond what appears self-evident.

 

1887 OSCAR WILDE

The Canterville Ghost (see above).

 

1942 GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (attributed)

Readers Digest, (November 1942): "England and America are two countries separated by the same language." [unsourced]

 

Repeated in Treasury of Humorous Quotations (Esar & Bentley), 1954. [also unsourced]

 

Repeated in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 p.521, under the heading Misquotations :

 

1944 BERTRAND RUSSELL

Saturday Evening Post, (3 June 1944): "It is a misfortune for Anglo-American friendship that the two countries are supposed to have a common language".

 

1954 DYLAN THOMAS

Quite Early One Morning, (1954) 

A collection of essays and stories. In A Visit To America, p.146, European writers and scholars in America were, he said : "up against the barrier of a common language".

 

Repeated in a radio talk prepared shortly before his death and published after it in The Listener, (April 1954).

 

1987 WINSTON CHURCHILL (falsely attributed)

The Times, 26 January 1987; The European, 22 November 1991 : "Winston Churchill said our two countries were divided by a common language."

 

Acknowledgement

Special thanks to Nigel Rees, host of the BBC Radio quiz program "Quote ... Unquote", for use of his original research that forms a major part of this chronology.

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Oscar Wilde In America |  © John Cooper, 2018