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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 03:01 GMT 04:01 UK


Pop stars' winning lines

Madonna: Included for her comparison with Eva Peron

Pop stars Madonna, the Spice Girls and Noel Gallagher join Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare in a new dictionary of memorable quotations.

The new edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations - the first in eight years - sees the thoughts of musicans listed alongside biblical lines and the sayings of politicians, actors and writers.

[ image: Noel Gallagher: Echoes of John Lennon]
Noel Gallagher: Echoes of John Lennon
More than 500 new authors have contributed to 2,000 new entries in the book, which also includes footballers Gary Lineker and Eric Cantona, writers Will Self, Stephen King and Julie Burchill, and members of the royal family.

The Spice Girls are included for the line "I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want" from their first hit single Wannabe, while Madonna is included for her words on playing the lead role in Evita: "Many people see Evita Peron as either a saint or the incarnation of Satan. That means I can definitely identify with her."

Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher is also included for a line harking back to John Lennon's infamous "bigger than Jesus" quote from the Beatles: "I hope we mean more to people than putting money in a church basket. Has God played Knebworth lately?"

[ image: Rev Ian Paisley: Northern Ireland politics feature as well]
Rev Ian Paisley: Northern Ireland politics feature as well
Developments in Northern Ireland mean Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley gets an entry for "she, the Queen, has become a parrot". So does his Sinn Fein opposite number, Gerry Adams, for "peace cannot be built on exclusion".

The Queen is the living royal with the most recorded quotes, but her youngest sons, the Dukes of York and Wessex, have yet to feature.

Baroness Thatcher is the most featured recent politician, with 21 quotes. Tony Blair has eight - but he still has to beat his Labour predecessor Harold Wilson with 12.

Ken Livingstone - fighting to be nominated as Labour's candidate in next year's London mayoral election - also features, for saying: "If voting changed anything, they'd abolish it."

[ image: Ken Livingstone:
Ken Livingstone: "If voting changed anything they'd abolish it"
The dictionary's editor, Elizabeth Knowles, said a good quote needed to be pithy and memorable, and relate to one particular set of circumstances - but apply more widely as well.

She added: "Not every quote that's well known fits all the criteria, but it's interesting to see what lodges in the public mind."

Ms Knowles said including contemporary performers' words alongside the likes of Shakespeare provided a snapshot of our times.

"I'm not going to put in anything that doesn't stand the test of time. But you can't say with accuracy what will survive - when Mandy Rice-Davies said of Stephen Ward, 'He would say that, wouldn't he?', who knew that would still be a familiar phrase?

"It illustrates how dangerous it would be to put in only what I thought was worthy," she said.

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