Ed Driscoll

Play It Again, Tsiolkovsky!

I’m writing an article in which I might quote a famous aphorism by Russian space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. But if I do a Google search on “Tsiolkovsky” and “Cradle“, it’s amazing how many variations I get on it:

“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.”

“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever.”

“The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but we cannot live forever in a cradle”.

“Earth is the cradle of humanity but one cannot live in the cradle forever”

“The earth is the cradle of mankind – one cannot remain in the cradle forever”

“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever”

And that’s just a sampling from the first page of the Google search. I wonder what’s the closet English translation to what Tsiolkovsky actually wrote?

I guess all of the variations are a combination of translating a quote from Russian to English, along with people typing quotes from memory (which is how Bogie’s “Play it, Sam” became “Play it again, Sam!” and other movie quotes become misheard and paraphrased), plus filtering old quotes through whatever the current PC-filtering requires (replacing “mankind” with “humanity”, for example).

I wonder how many other famous quotes from history have become similarly mangled over time, much like the famous E Plebnista