Michelle Obama in 2008:
“Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”“Your word is your bond”: why aren’t those words a matter of plagiarism? Because they’re meant to be recognized as a borrowing. Dictum meum pactum , “My word is my bond,” is the motto of the London Stock Exchange. The philosopher J. L. Austin adapted that motto in his How to Do Things with Words (1962):
For one who says “promising is not merely a matter of uttering words! It is an inward and spiritual act!” is apt to appear as a solid moralist standing out against a generation of superficial theorizers: we see him as he sees himself, surveying the invisible depths of ethical space, with all the distinction of a specialist in the sui generis . Yet he provides Hippolytus with a let-out, the bigamist with an excuse for his “I do” and the welsher with a defense for his “I bet.” Accuracy and morality alike are on the side of the plain saying that our word is our bond.The poet Geoffrey HIll borrowed Austin’s words in a 1983 essay, “Our Word Is Our Bond.” More recently, Austin’s words showed up in Marianne Constable’s punning book title Our Word Is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts (2014).
Austin, HIll, and Constable all intend that their borrowings be recognized: that’s the whole point. There’s a world of difference between a borrowing meant to be recognized — an allusion, and the unacknowledged use of words passed off as one’s own.
I used to think about allusion all the time. This page gives some idea.
A related post
Abby and Austin
[In Constable’s title, speech acts is not a plural noun: acts is a verb. Clever.]