Looking back at the year in quotations

Yale Book of Quotations: Fred R. ShapiroEach year, Fred Shapiro, editor of The Yale Book of Quotations, compiles a list of memorable quotations from the past twelve months. An entertaining mix of political missteps, slick advertising lingo, and plain old nonsense, his 2009 list adds some levity and perspective to the year in review.

Recently, Shapiro spoke to NPR’s Robert Siegel about the business of selecting the year’s most memorable quips and indicated the apparent difficulty of finding eloquence amid the hubbub:

SHAPIRO: I mean, I have to say, having really studied this,
there are no Shakespeares or Lincolns out there, that the kinds of
quotes we get nowadays are entirely different in nature. You know,
maybe there are eloquent, inspiring quotes out there, but it would just
take a while for us to realize it.

SIEGEL: But it isn’t for
lack of politicians giving set-piece speeches and trying to sum up
their ideas very eloquently. That’s a very common event.

SHAPIRO: Well, it is a common event – although, I guess, one surprise
of the year was that Barack Obama – a very intelligent, eloquent person
– in his speeches did not really try for the rhetorical heights. He
really, I think, made a conscious decision to go for substance rather
than style. And I don’t believe that were any future famous lines
coming out of his inaugural address.

Think that Shapiro missed one of the year’s best lines? Submit your suggestions in the comments or at QuotationDictionary.com, and be sure to follow @YaleQuotations on Twitter for your daily dose of eloquence.

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