This may have been mentioned, but

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Tue Mar 12 18:37:44 UTC 2013

Thanks. The film clip is basically accurate (and yes, that *is* amazing). Just one quibble: The stable hand who spoke of going to "the big apple" (in 1920) did so in New Orleans; there's nothing that connects him with Mississippi.

Gerald Cohen, co-author (with Barry Popik)
_Origin of New York City's Nickname "The Big Apple"_, 2nd, revised and expanded edition.
Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag. 2011.

Message from Ben Zimmer, Tuesday, March 12, 2013 1:00 PM:

On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 1:50 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> I just saw "Barney's Version", a 2010 movie from a 1990's novel by
> Mordecai Richler (so you can predict Montreal, Jewish, Leonard
> Cohen songs on the soundtrack), with Paul Giamatti as Barney and
> Dustin Hoffman as his father.  (It was my choice of the airplane movie
> litter, and not bad at that.)  But the relevance here is a scene in which
> Barney has suddenly shown up in New York to woo a woman he met
> (at his own second wedding) and fallen in love with.  So they're
> walking in Central Park and, maybe out of nervousness or maybe to
> impress her, he begins a riff asking her whether she knows why The
> Big Apple is called "The Big Apple", and proceeds to tell her.  The
> amazing part is that he gets it right--John J. Fitz Gerald, the stable
> hands, everything--as if he'd cribbed it from Barry Popik's web site,
> Jerry Cohen's ads-l postings, or both.  Wonder what the story is thereā€¦

I guess we can thank screenwriter Michael Konyves, since the "Big
Apple" business doesn't appear to be in Richler's novel. You can see
the clip here:


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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