"City of Light", "oaktag"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jan 10 02:19:17 UTC 2003

At 7:51 PM -0500 1/9/03, Fred Shapiro wrote:
>On Thu, 9 Jan 2003, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>  We've been through enough fair-based and city-nickname-relevant
>>  etymythologies that when I saw this little story I immediately began
>>  to wonder:  Is "the City of Light" as a sobriquet for Paris really
>>  traceable back to the Paris Fair of 1900, or should that story be
>>  consigned to the murky dustbin of urban legend, along with the St.
>>  Louis World's Fair that didn't really give us hamburgers, not to
>>  mention the Dana non-source of "the Windy City" and Eve's Apples?  Or
>>  is this one legit?
>If this story is the standard one and if Barry lived in France, we would
>get daily bulletins from him about newspapers printing the wrong story.  A
>search in New York Times Historical shows references to Paris as the "City
>of Light" as far back as 1886.
>Fred Shapiro
Aha.  Thought so.  Sounded a bit fishy to me.

On a different note, I just heard my first "oaktag", or at least the
first one I remember.  It was on "The West Wing", the Christmas show
that I taped then and just watched tonight, in which White House
Director of Communications Toby Ziegler (played by Richard Schiff)
uses it in the sense we've discussed.  The character is from New York
(Brighton Beach) and Jewish.

I'm still not sure how I avoided familiarity with this lexical item
my whole life, but I'm willing to accept that it's my fault and not


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