Separated at Birth

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Henry Sweet and Teddy Roosevelt:

When I saw Henry Sweet's picture up on the wall of the Oxford Phonetics Lab, I commented on how much he looked like Teddy Roosevelt. John Coleman immediately thought of several other cases where British phoneticians are secretly twins with American presidents. Thus John Wells and Calvin Coolidge:

Alexander John Ellis and William McKinley:

Joseph Wright and James Garfield:

And here's a picture of J.R. Firth, David Abercrombie, and Daniel Jones. Who are their secret presidential siblings?

Update — This one, noted by David Donnell, doesn't involve any phoneticians, but it's too good not to share (even though it's obviously photoshopped…) Who knew?


  1. Yerushalmi said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

    Assuming you listed their names from left to right, Firth looks like William Howard Taft after an extended diet.

  2. Belial said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

    I'd have said FDR, Ford, and Truman.

  3. GeorgeW said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

    Abercrombie may have Obama ears.

  4. a George said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 4:44 pm

    obviously, all men are equal!

  5. AntC said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 4:59 pm

    Private Eye magazine (UK) runs a regular look-alike column, usually picking a face that has been in that week's news paired with someone preposterously unlike them in every respect except vaguely look-alike.

    To add amusement, they switch the captions under the pictures.

    Further amusement, this usually appears in the letters column, with the likeness supposedly pointed out by someone with an implausible-sounding name. [Not so unlike LL's contributions, perhaps?]

  6. Narmitaj said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

    Firth, Abercrombie and Jones could of course look similar to Presidents of the Future even yet unborn. Maybe Triumvirs of a future World State.

    In support of AntC's Private Eye comment, here's a googlesearch compilation of examples, mostly but not exclusively from the Eye.

  7. Ray Girvan said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 9:45 pm

    Alfred Molina and Dr Johnson.

  8. Victoria Simmons said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 10:59 pm

    I dunno about Sweet. Stick pince-nez and a bushy mustache on a man, and anybody could be under there!

  9. John Swindle said,

    May 13, 2014 @ 11:43 pm

    Allen Dulles, George W. Bush, and V. I. Lenin.

  10. Bob Ladd said,

    May 14, 2014 @ 2:08 am

    @ AntC: From personal experience I can assure you that Private Eye's lookalike letters are submitted by actual readers. Given their odd and loyal readership, they don't have to make this stuff up themselves.
    (In case you're wondering, Donald Rumsfeld and former Romanian president Ion Iliescu.)

  11. John Swindle said,

    May 14, 2014 @ 3:42 am

    I meant, for Firth, Abercrombie, and Jones, respectively.

  12. Dan S said,

    May 14, 2014 @ 8:16 am

    If you liked historical linguistics, you'll love historical linguist-ology.

  13. Matt G said,

    May 14, 2014 @ 8:32 am

    I'm not sure if your update was meant to be a joke or note, but the picture of Emma Watson seems pretty obviously photoshopped. The small details around the nose, eyebrows, and eyes are exactly the same on both pictures.

  14. Dan S said,

    May 14, 2014 @ 8:56 am

    Oddly enough, nobody seems to have attempted this exercise on Mark Liberman himself. Now, WWMYLD? Surely something computational. So, I dragged top google-image search results for {mark liberman upenn} back into google images, 'described' each one as 'president', and noted the 'visually similar' results.

    Google was all about the beard, and thus we get Egypt's Pres. Morsi, Iran's Rowhani, and Iran's Ahmiadinejad. [1]

    Oh? You want American Presidents?
    How about Brazil's Inacio, or Paraguay's Lugo? [2]

    Sorry? You want a North-American President?
    Google suggested Pres. Snow, from Hunger Games. [3]

    Ah! I got it. You want a non-fictional US President!
    I give you President Benjamin Harrison. [4]

    I do wish I could've embedded the images for you, here.





  15. John said,

    May 14, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

    Perhaps slightly off the subject, but it's interesting to me how much humor in the Private Eye examples derives from the switched captions, e.g. "Rebekah" underneath a portrait of James II and vice versa.

    There's humor both in thinking that a) an earnest mistake was made, which in some cases is clearly preposterous (Martian & Cheryl) and in some cases is almost plausible (Rebekah & James II), or b) that no mistake was made and the right captions are with the right pictures.

  16. David Donnell said,

    May 15, 2014 @ 1:24 am

    @ MattG: thanks for Photoshopping observation re: the Richard Dawkins/Emma Watson side-by-side images. Here's a related, telling gif:

  17. jan said,

    May 17, 2014 @ 9:09 pm, senator, character actor.

    They look a lot alike, though there might be another actor who looks like the senator, I can't think who.

    Also, Keene Curtis, a semi-regular on the sitcom Cheers, looked like somebody who formerly was in the US government, I can't remember that one either.

    The little girl on "Speed Racer" looks exactly like the girl on "Inspector Gadget." Same actress, I'm sure.

    I guess I'll stop now.

  18. Ben Hemmens said,

    May 18, 2014 @ 5:42 am

    Add Arthur Griffith to Sweet and Roosevelt

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