"Always be sincere, even if you don't mean it" (1954) & Yahoo Answers
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Apr 23 02:44:27 UTC 2006
Yahoo Answers is like Google Answers, but it's answered by anyone--expert or
"Who said this?" is a popular question and this one ("Always be sincere,
even if you don't mean it") just came up. Harry Truman is the popular answer,
but I think that's wrong.
Who said this?
Always be sincere. Even if you don't mean it.
The great President Harry S. Truman.
_RADIO TV GAG BAG; CULLED BY LARRY WOLTERS _
Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Dec 12, 1954. p. Q45 (1
Mortimer Snerd: "Always be sincere, whether you mean it or not."
The origin of "the Big Apple" seems to be a popular Yahoo Answers question.
My name comes up a lot in the answers, although my website has never been
mentioned. One woman continues to promote the "Big Apple whore theory," even
after its removal from the web.
One person (below) seems to have recently visited my website, but he credits
the 1960s "manzana principal" theory, citing John Ciardi (sigh) and Robert
Hendrickson (bigger sigh) and 2004's Language Log (sighs, throws up hands).
There are quotes like: "New York jazz musicians of the 1930s (New Orleans
roots!)." Listen: Cab Calloway regularly went to the track. The 1934 "Big Apple"
joint in Harlem was run by sportsmen. The NYC jazzmen of the 1930s got "the
Big Apple" from Fitz Gerald.
This is followed with: "And note that the fact that the term's first clearly
DOCUMENTED use (by Fitzgerald) does NOT show us that the 'racetrack'
application preceded its application to the jazz scene (it's hard to imagine how
that would happen). It might well have happened the other way round!"
Yeah, it's hard to imagine that the first citations in race track lingo are
Thanks to Jerry Kreuscher and Language Log for believing in "manzana
principal" without a single citation anywhere. No Language Log update? Jeez, this
never ends even when it ends.
First, about the alleged bordello background -- the page from which everyone
got this story (_http://salwen.com/apple.html_ (http://salwen.com/apple.html)
--The Society for New York History) never gave a source for the story and
has since removed it! I think we can dismiss that one.
I think Barry Popik's documentation of Fitzgerald's discovery of the term
around 1920 --now widely accepted as THE explanation-- is an important part of
the answer, but notice that it does NOT pull all the pieces together, nor
does it actually tell you the SOURCE of the expression!! Fitzgerald was just
relating an expression he first heard on a trip to New Orleans.
The New Orleans connection appears to be absolutely critical. Note that it
fits in with the long recognized use of the term "big apple" among New York
jazz musicians of the 1930s (New Orleans roots!) And note that the fact that
the term's first clearly DOCUMENTED use (by Fitzgerald)does NOT show us that
the 'racetrack' application preceded its application to the jazz scene (it's
hard to imagine how that would happen). It might well have happened the other
So who coined the phrase, and why? I believe John Ciardi and Robert
Hendrickson offer the best explanation, one which fits in very well with the
Fitzgerald and jazz musician stories (though oddly Popik tends to be dismissive of
it, perhaps thinking it somehow undercuts his work ?!) At any rate it makes a
LOT of sense.
The explanation is simple:
The word "manzana" in Spanish means either apple or 'built up block of
houses, neighborhood'. Ciardi suggests that the slang expression 'manzana
prinicipale' i.e., 'main/big apple [or apple orchard]' was thrown around in New
Orleans, a city with some old Spanish roots and expressions, not just French.
(Popik seems to dislike the Spanish explanation because of the "French"
background of New Orleans, but in fact there was more than one cultural influence in
It's easy to see how such an expression might be picked up and used by folks
in New Orleans to refer to some 'hot spot' where the MAIN action in a field
(jazz, racing, whatever) was to be found --that was the place to be!
"In about 1910 jazz musicians there used it as a loose translation of the
Spanish 'manzana principal,' the main 'apple orchard,' the main city block
downtown, the place where all the action is." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and
Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997)."
see all the theories discussed on
(for Ciardi's view, see the Jerry Kreuscher emails)
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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