Wednesday, April 25, 2012
“A picture is worth a thousand words”
I researched this succinct phrase expecting to find a simple reference to an author. It seemed a good way to introduce the next Legacy program at The Warehouse In Pine River on April 28th. It is to be Cal Rice, photographer, presenting his work “Bhutan: A view from the top of the world”. This was not to be the case. Phrases.org.uk states, “This phrase emerged in the USA in the early part of the 20th century. Its introduction is widely attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, who published a piece commending the effectiveness of graphics in advertising with the title "One look is worth a thousand words", in Printer's Ink, December 1921. Barnard claimed the phrase's source to be oriental by adding "so said a famous Japanese philosopher, and he was right". Ah, you might say. That would explain it. Not so fast! “…The arbitrary escalation from 'one thousand' to 'ten thousand' and the switching from Japan to China as the source leads us to smell a rat with this derivation. In fact, Barnard didn't introduce the phrase - his only contribution was the incorrect suggestion that the country of origin was Japan or China. This has led to another popular belief about the phrase, i.e. that it was coined by Confucius. It might fit the Chinese-sounding 'Confucius he say' style, but the Chinese derivation was pure invention…”
But enough of this craziness. Go look at some wondrous photographs and draw your own conclusions, and you might just get a thousand words as well.
I remain your cat crony,
Browser, the library cat