di Napoli, a Watertown

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Mar 21 04:51:17 UTC 2010

At 3/20/2010 09:21 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Well, it does make sense that the name should come from elsewhere than other
>than Poland. I once had an a Italian friend named "di Napoli" who was from
>Siragusa. I found this hard to understand until it dawned on me that, when
>Siragusa is the default location, why would anyone from Siragusa who lived
>in Siragusa be known as being from Siragusa? OTOH, if my friend's ancestors
>had moved from Napoli to Siragusa, then the fact that they weren't from
>around those parts would have been worthy of note and been reflected in the
>(new) surname of their descendents.

Just as the same street is known as "Waltham St." in Lexington and
"Lexington St." in Waltham.

For a couple of days I thought that "Watertown Pond" was Fresh Pond,
now in Cambridge, on the same principle -- for Cantabridgians, it was
"the pond on the way to Watertown".  But then I was informed that in
1729, the year of my encounter, Fresh Pond actually was in
Watertown.  (I still think they're the same water, but my theory of
naming is shot.)


>Why would the Poles call a Polish dance a "polka," when all Polish dances
>are polkas?

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

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