Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word If

Overview

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.

If you can't be kind, at least be vague.

An aphorism is a pithy observation that attempts to communicate a truth about the human experience, often with a dash of wit. History's greatest thinkers and writers have viewed the aphorism as a potent ...

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Ifferisms: An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word If

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Overview

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.

If you can't be kind, at least be vague.

An aphorism is a pithy observation that attempts to communicate a truth about the human experience, often with a dash of wit. History's greatest thinkers and writers have viewed the aphorism as a potent tool, and it is remarkable how many of their most memorable observations have been introduced with the biggest little word in the human language: If. These ifferisms, as they have been dubbed by quotation anthologist Dr. Mardy Grothe, demonstrate the powerful role that hypothetical and conditional thinking play in our lives.

This novel compendium of wisdom, wit, and wordplay presents nearly two thousand quotations that all begin with the word if. Alongside history's most famous sayings, readers will find—and often learn the fascinating story behind—such modern classics as "If you build it, they will come" and "If anything can go wrong, it will." In chapters on sex, love, sports, politics, advice, gender dynamics, and more, quotation lovers will savor scintillating observations from the usual suspects—Twain, Wilde, Shaw, Emerson, and Franklin—as well as scores of contemporary wits and wordsmiths.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061672309
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/25/2009
  • Pages: 326
  • Sales rank: 649,850
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Mardy Grothe is a psychologist, management consultant, and public speaker. He is the author of five previous word-and-language books: I Never Metaphor I Didn't Like, Viva la Repartee, Oxymoronica, Ifferisms, and Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You. A lifelong quotation collector, Dr. Mardy—as he is known to his fans around the globe—is routinely described as a "quotation maven" and is well on his way to becoming America's most popular quotation anthologist. He lives with his wife, Katherine Robinson, in North Carolina.

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Read an Excerpt

Ifferisms
An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word "IF"

Chapter One

If Anything Can Go Wrong, It Will

Classic Ifferisms

In 1911, the American writer and publisher Elbert Hubbard—best known as the author of the inspirational story "A Message to Garcia"—aroused controversy when he suggested that he was the original author of a popular American sentiment:

If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.


Quotation researchers were quickly on the case and discovered that, in an 1855 journal entry, Ralph Waldo Emerson had written something similar: "If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods." You will notice, though, that there is no mention of a mousetrap.

In 1889, seven years after Emerson's death, two California women, Sarah Yule and Mary Keene, compiled a book of quotations, titled it Borrowings, and arranged for the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco to publish it. The book attributed the mousetrap observation—exactly as it appears above—to Emerson. In 1912, a year after Hubbard's claim of authorship, Sarah Rule said that she heard Emerson make the remark in an 1871 lecture he delivered in San Francisco. She was sixteen at the time and had attempted to faithfully record the observation in a notebook. We'll never knowwith certainty how Emerson phrased the thought, but it is generally agreed that Emerson, and not Hubbard, was the sentiment's original author. The saying enjoys exalted status in the world of quotations—a classic homage to American ingenuity. As often happens with quotations, it got simplified over time and most people today are familiar with this more streamlined version:

If a man can make a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to his door.


Ifferisms
An Anthology of Aphorisms That Begin with the Word "IF"
. Copyright © by Mardy Grothe. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 23, 2009

    Silly, but hard to put down

    The author's "helpful" comments -- often attempting to explain the aphorisms he cites -- are mostly lame. But the citations themselves (aphorisms beginning with the word "if") are fun.

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