Barry Popik's extraordinary research -- was: Re: "the apocryphal HDAS III"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 4 00:15:25 UTC 2010

Anyone who reads my postings to ADS-L should know that I am a great admirer of Barry Popik's researches.  I have thanked him many times and in many ways.  Recently I devoted an entire column in the Yale Alumni Magazine to extolling him and his discoveries.  On the other hand, I sometimes criticize Barry's excesses.  My referring to the facts that he has posted many "rants" on this list serve and that one aspect of his rants has been sharp criticism of publishers and libraries, is a simple statement of fact that can't be too controversial.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Gerald Cohen [gcohen at MST.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2010 8:28 PM
Subject: Barry Popik's extraordinary research -- was: Re: "the apocryphal              HDAS III"

             This is a defense which really should not be necessary. -----
>        Barry has withdrawn from participation in the ads-l discussions, and
> the blast against him is therefore gratuitous and entirely unwarranted. I have
> been delighted and honored to work with Barry for almost twenty years and have
> benefited enormously from the material on word origins he has sent me since we
> first met.  I have written up much of that material and shared it with the
> scholarly community (word buffs too) in my Comments on Etymology and then
> books based on the Comments on Etymology material.
>       Barry has made major contributions to the study of the origin of "The
> Big Apple," "I'm from Missouri, you've got to show me," "dude," "hot dog,"  a
> wide variety of other food/drink terms, "jinx," hashhouse lingo, "cakewalk,"
> "The Windy City" (Chicago), etc. etc. etc.  My Comments on Etymology files
> show 145 of Barry's items over the years.
>      His work particularly on food items has been extraordinary and evidently
> very much appreciated by Andrew F. Smith, editor-in-chief of The Oxford
> Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (Oxford U. Pr., 2004), who listed
> Barry on the Editorial Board Page as "Senior Consulting Editor."
>       In 1992 I was president of the American Name Society and had occasion to
> honor Barry (also: Charles Gillett) in my presidential speech, given at the
> annual meeting (the dinner was at a fine restaurant in NYC, and my talk was on
> the origin of "The Big Apple.")  Barry had done extraordinary work in locating
> two needles in a haystack, viz. the two 1920s columns of John J. Fitz Gerald
> in which Fitz Gerald told how he acquired the expression "the big apple" (sic;
> lower case letters) from two black stable-hands in New Orleans.  With further
> detective work Barry determined the date of that conversation to within 48
> hours.
>       When the Internet arrived, Barry started sharing his extensive material
> with ads-l -- an enormous boon to anyone interested in the words/expressions
> of American speech.  Much of that material was lost due to a computer glitch
> in the ads-l archived material, but I have saved at least some of it, and
> Barry then picked up where he left off.  His archived material (and the
> numerous photocopies he sent me before the arrival of the Internet) represent
> a great investment of time and energy in our field, and it was truly a labor
> of love.
>     I for one (and I know I'm not alone) say thank you.
> Gerald Cohen
> Professor of Foreign Languages
> Department of Arts, Languages, and Philosophy
> Missouri University of Science and Technology
> (former name: University of Missouri-Rolla)
> Rolla, MO 65409
> ---Research specialty: Etymology
> From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Shapiro, Fred, Tue 8/3/2010 4:48
> PM
> Subject: Re: "the apocryphal HDAS III"
> <snip>
> I also think that some of the comments on ADS-L, reminiscent of Barry Popik's
> rants of the past, are very utopian sentiments that are oblivious of the
> unfortunate realities of publishing and libraries (two institutions that our
> society is rapidly devaluing).
> Fred Shapiro

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