Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More Ngram fun: carrots and sticks

Carrot and stick, or carrot on a stick? In my last go-round with this one -- when I found "turnips on a stick" in the 1840s -- I decided they might well be two independent creations, rather than an original and a variant. Michael Quinion also covers the issue pretty exhaustively at World Wide words. And here's the Google graph, showing that "carrot and stick," if no more respectable than its stablemate, is a lot more common.


Bryan White said...

Are we talking about the idea of the carrot in front and the stick behind, the combination of reward and punishment?

The Ridger, FCD said...

It is two different things: the carrot-in-front-stick-behind (carrot and stick) or the carrot-on-a-stick-perpetually-dangling-in-front-and-out-of-reach (carrot on stick). This has to make the debate... tricky.