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Carrot and stick

Posted by David FG on May 28, 2005

In Reply to: Carrot and stick posted by Smokey Stover on May 28, 2005

: : : : The carrot and stick phrase first became known to me in a childrens book called "Jim, Jock & Jumbo" which my Mom gave me in 1948. Jim or Jock a turtle pictured pulling a wagon, as I recall, with a carrot just in front of him dangling from a stick. This created a perpetual motion turtle.

: : : : Is there another who remembers this book?

: : :
: : : I don't remember that book, but I believe the phrase has another origin: there are two ways to get a donkey to move; either entice it forward with the promise of a carrot; or drive it forward by beating it with a stick.

: : : DFG

: : I don't remember the book. From previous discussions of the phrase:

: : CARROT AND STICK - ...I thought the origin of this expression was pretty clear. But it turns out there are two schools of thought - 1. carrot ON a stick (a carrot dangling on a string on a stick before a stubborn mule) and 2. carrot and/or stick (alternating punishment and reward).

: : : My opinion is that the right expression is No. 1 and refers to this scenario -- mules are stubborn so some enterprising farmer rigged up a stick with a carrot on a string that would dangle in front of the mule, a few inches from his nose. The mule could never get close enough to take a bite but would keep running to try and "catch up" with the carrot. The evidence on my "side" is a Little Rascals routine, a Janis Joplin monologue, some clipart showing a carrot on a stick dangling before a mule, and a story told on a religious Web site. Weighty evidence, don't you think?

: : : Evidence for side No. 2 is an entry in Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977). It says: ".carrot and stick. A riddle that seems to have confounded many students of language is the origin of the carrot and stick expression. Research in Aesop's Fables, the Uncle Remus folk tales and other such sources didn't turn up any answers."

: : : Mr. and Mrs. Morris cite a couple of instances where the expression was used -- a speech by Winston Churchill and the movie "Maltese Falcon" that infers that the animal was tempted with a carrot and beaten with a stick. What Mr. Churchill said in a press conference, May 25, 1943, was: 'We shall continue to operate on the Italian donkey at both ends, with a carrot and with a stick,".

: I can't get itout of my head that Teddy Roosevelt once used the expression publicly. In any case, the OED thinks the carrot and the stick are alternatives, just the way Churchill used them. SS

I am convinced that in UK and Irish usage they are always alternatives: the carrot or the stick, in effect.


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