"Big Apple" & recent Wikipedia change

Chris F. Waigl chris at LASCRIBE.NET
Sun Jul 23 15:38:08 UTC 2006

On Sun, 2006-07-23 at 10:15 -0500, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:

>     German "zugute kommen" here means "to benefit (smb./sth.)".  So the =
> second German sentence says literally: 'For the horses whom the money =
> didn't benefit [i.e., for the horses which didn't benefit from the =
> money; i.e., for the horses which didn't receive the money] there was, =
> parallel to the "Big Money," the "Big Apple," [i.e.] the big apple.'
> ---- I.e.,  the Wikipedia writer is saying in effect that the big apple =
> which those non-victorious horses received was a sort of consolation =
> prize.  And yes, Doug Wilson is correct in commenting "This idea seems a =
> little odd." I'd go a bit further: The idea is bizarre and totally =
> unsupported by any evidence.

I thought about commenting on this earlier, but it's hard because, well,
this isn't the clearest bit of German ever written.

Your translation of "zugute kommen" is perfectly fine. But I don't know
what to make of "für die Pferde, denen das Geld nicht zugute kam, gab es
parallel zum 'Big Money', den 'Big Apple'".

In German, relative clauses are always set off by commas, whether they
are integrated or supplementary[1]. In addition, definite articles work
differently from English. The phrase could therefore mean one of two

- "for those horses that didn't benefit from the money, there existed,
along with the 'Big Money', the 'Big Apple'"
- "for horses, which didn't benefit from money, there existed ...

My original reading was the second one -- i.e. that horses don't care
about money, so they got apples instead --, with a very strong feeling
of "oh, this is so very badly phrased".

I can tentatively put "fix the German version" on my to-do list, but
right now I'm very far behind with a lot of language-related stuff I
should be taking care of. These are way too busy times.

Chris Waigl
the least I could do was changing the English one back

[1] Indeed, I first learnt about that distinction a few years into my
secondary-school instruction in English as a Foreign Language. It's a
very unnatural one to make if your native language is German.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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