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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Zore hua kis par?

Whether it's Obama using it in a speech or Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address resurfaces almost daily to contradict "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here ...".

Strangely, the vast majority of the people quoting it - from the 2 mentioned above, to hundreds more, including teachers who should know better - recite "government of the people, by the people, for the people" with the emphases on the wrong words.
Raymond Massey, after his great success on stage (late 1930s) and film (1940) often made guest appearances playing a scene or two as Lincoln on numerous stages. There's a story that on one such occasion, in 1943, when he got to those words, he too said in his booming dramatic voice "government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people".
As the speech ended, over the cheers was heard the voice of an old man from the audience. "That's not what Abe said. He said 'government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE' ..."
The 98-year old man was just 18 when he'd heard Lincoln deliver the speech at Gettysburg, on 19th November 1863 (almost exactly one hundred years before the day when JFK was killed).
I don't know if this incident actually happened or if it's just a story, but the old man's claim sure makes better linguistic sense. (Many actors, since that day, do use this intonation while playing the part. Listen to this recording.)
There is, however, one real Massey-Lincoln story that I recall from Kermit Schafer's collectible album, Pardon My Blooper. In Abe Lincoln In Illinois, Abe, played by Raymond Massey, is leaving and standing at the back of a railroad car while the "crowd" yells good-bye. One young 'extra', overcome by being in the same room with the great actor, can clearly be heard above the others: "Good-bye, Mr. Massey."

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2 Comments:

Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

I also thought that the words 'of', 'by' and 'for' were meant to be emphasised, like Mr. Massey, until I read this blog-post i.e.

:)

11 November, 2008 13:14

 
Anonymous rahmat masih said...

@sidhusaaheb

OMG. Even YOU?

11 November, 2008 15:36

 

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