[PW] "Bag of Words" as an insult

Claire clairefromclare at gmail.com
Mon Jan 9 12:35:12 PST 2017


No rush.  This one's for my sister, and I'm asking because we have such a
depth of quotation knowledge here.  I suspect linguists are well.

My sister is a professional writer & editor.  Her favorite insult is,
"That's not a sentence--that's just a bag of words."  We're trying to
determine if that's an actual quote, and if so by whom.

The concept "bag of words" started in linguistics in 1954 and got picked up
by the computer programming world, which is mostly what you get when you
try to work your way through this. Neither is the meaning we're after.

Is there any way to trace how this phrase made its way from linguistics to
writing?  It's fun to see how words change meaning over time--you don't
often see a phrase change like this.

Much appreciated!


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