Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 10:52:56 -0500 From: Jesse T Sheidlower 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.