Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 10:52:56 -0500

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: movie non-anachronism

In Frank Rich's Op-Ed piece in today's New York Times,

he discusses the movie The Titanic, beginning with whether

people actually gave each other the finger in 1912, which

he thinks is a grave anachronism (a "deviation from historical

verisimilitude," in his words). In fact, that gesture was

certainly in use in 1912; not only was the expression "the

finger" current (though only in the figurative sense 'harsh

treatment, etc'; the use of "the finger" referring to the

finger gesture itself is not attested until later, though

this is unquestionable due to a gap in the evidence; see

HDAS), but there are nineteenth-century American photographs

of people giving the finger.

A correspondent also asked me recently if "shut up!," which

also occurs in The Titanic, was an anachronism; it is not,

of course.