Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

Back 40 years ago, my "best friend" had a copy made of my antique ring that my aunt gave to me when I was 13 years old. When I mentioned this to my mom, she said to me, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." But I never was quite sure how to feel about my BFF "stealing" my jewelry style. I got over it. I still wear my ring and have for over 50 years. The "best friend" didn't stick around that long. Maybe she found someone else to copy.

Speaking of copying, one of my final student jobs in college back in 1970 was as assistant to a professor of English at my university. Most of my peers thought that I helped grade/score multiple choice tests and read essays for spelling and grammar mistakes. But my most intensive task (for $1 an hour) was to check essays and written projects for plagiarism. Since Google didn't come into existence until the late 1990's, all I could do was check footnotes with books/ magazines. (Remember those crazy things that we had to manipulate on mostly manual typewriters at the bottom of the pages of our papers and also the superscript numbers to signal you to look down at them? Grrrr)

So for two semesters I spent lots of hours in the air-conditioned university library paging through hundreds of books about Shakespeare (England's most infamous plagiarizer) and many other English language related books or magazines. Thanks to footnotes which were required back then, I checked whether direct quotes were punctuated correctly with quotation marks and whether indirect quotes were paraphrased but still documented with footnotes. And I looked for language/style that read as EL (Encyclopedia Language). As a university senior in English Education, my employer and I thought that I could recognize words and writing style that did not quite fit writing for my underclassmates. (Chuckle, chuckle!) A Google search would have made my job more accurate and far more enjoyable. But that luxury did not exist. Nor did any computer.

But computer searches do exist today. You can be assured that I am not the only one who uses them to check sources/facts.

I don't even earn $1 an hour, but I find out if what I read and hear is "original" or maybe just a very good copy.


Joanne Noragon said...

Someone once told me "there is nothing new under the sun," and I generally leave it at that. I do have a problem with blatant, though.

Carla from The River said...

Unique piece of jewelry, perfect.