Language is alive. As idioms find currency in expression, they sometimes mutate – for example, Shakespeare never said anything about “gilding the lily”. He wrote, “to gild refined gold, to paint the lily”, but the pithier version is what caught on.
Have you noticed this one?
- “please, sir, I want some more” About 67,700 results found by a Google search for the quoted phrase
- “thank you, sir, may I have another” About 90,400 results
- “please, sir, may I have another” About 160,000 results
Note that there are more hits for the third phrase than for the other two combined.
The first phrase is a quote from Oliver Twist. The second is a quote from Animal House.
The third phrase – the most popular – seems to be somewhere in between: a misquote of both?
Perhaps the mind recognizes the kinship between the two quotes and instinctively merges them. (I just did it myself, which is what prompted me to look up these (rudimentary) statistics.) Perhaps these two classic works about persevering underdogs now have equal weight in our literary heritage?