Monday, May 6, 2013

Another Gough Whitlam Anecdote

Risque content follows: 

Readers will know that I am an admirer of the wit and wisdom of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Here is another, from Barry Cohen’s book Whitlam to Winston, which sadly is out of print. 

Some preliminary comments: 

There are two views on how the name Cicero should be pronounced. Commonly it is spoken as siss-ser-o, but there is another school of thought that holds that the traditional Latin pronunciation is either kick-er-o or keek-er-o. This is also the comment in Wikipedia

The pronunciation of Cicero has been an ongoing debate for centuries. In Alexander Pope’s Dunciad (1742) the character Arstarchus comments: 

"Tis true on words is still our whole debate
Disputes on me and te, or aut and at, 
To sound or sink in cano o or a
Or give up Cicero to c or k" 

Likewise the name Cockburn is pronounced as Ko-burn by some and as Cock-burn by others. 


Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck 

From Cohen's book:

A MATTER OF PRONUNCIATION 

Speaking at the farewell dinner to Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck in July 1974, Gough said of Sir Paul that ‘he was the greatest proconsul since Cicero’. In his response Sir Paul good-humourdly corrected Gough’s pronunciation of Cicero, pronouncing it with a hard C – KICKERO. 

Some days later Milton Cockburn, respected Sydney Morning Herald journalist but at the time one of Clyde Cameron’s private secretaries, was sitting in the adviser’s box while a Matter of Public Importance was being debated in the House of Representatives. The debate over, he left the House and promptly bumped into the Prime Minister. 

‘Who are you?’ enquired the Great Man. 

‘I’m Milton Cockburn,’ he replied. 

‘That should be pronounced CO’BURN,’ Gough informed him. 

‘Well -- I don’t think that anyone who can’t pronounce ‘Cicero’ correctly should be telling me how to pronounce my name,’ replied the brash young adviser. 

The eyebrows raised, the eyes widened and then, turning to his colleague Chris Hurford standing nearby, he gasped: ‘He’s a cheeky little c- - t isn’t he -- and that’s with a hard C.’ 

SOURCE: Milton Cockburn


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