Chicago Etymology Revisited

carljweber carljweber at MSN.COM
Tue Dec 18 20:50:31 UTC 2001

--Barry Popik wrote
   The American Name Society (post this on ANS-L!) has run articles on the
name of "Chicago."  I copied what the Chicago Historical Society has--there
was a long study, but I don't know if it was Vogel (1958).
   On the "Windy City" front, I e-mailed my story to the Columbia Journalism
Review.  I had found the 1886 Chicago Tribune "Windy City" explanation while
in the Columbia University Library.  The "Windy City" myth involves a New
York newspaper editor.  Gerald Cohen (Comments on Etymology editor who
published a "Windy City" article) graduated from Columbia.
   Columbia never wrote back.

"Windy City" because NY considered upstart Chi town full of hot air  (i.e.
blusterous) in vying for the Columbian Expo. That's a myth?
(I hope my FULL 'Chicago Etymology Revisited' post got through. It's over on
Linguist, too, however, where it seems to wrap right. I haven't figured this
stuff out yet -- I'm no poster boy poster boy.)

I've been doing Chicago Etymology (as I familiarly call it) for five
(yikes!) years, the last few, in a high gear.

Mr. Lewis of the Chicago Historical Society has, for some time, been
following and encouraging my work, as well as has the Alliance Francaise,
Chicago -- where, as a result of what I've learned cross-discipline in my
Chicago Etymology investigations, I direct a group in the French Colonial
sequence of regional history. Investigating the source materials, I've made
a number of discoveries and devised some new historical spins. I've been
going over the linguistics, history, cartography, and the Indian and
explorers material in painful detail, and believe that I've not only touched
all the (available) bases, but've found and invented new ones sufficient to
make Chicago Etymology a new ball game.

Vogel (1958) and Swenson (1991) are the standing authorities on the
etymology, however, neither had knowledge of linguistics (morphemes,
phonemes, minimal pairs, etc.). Nor did they of the historical narratives;
nor the cartography (and a picture's WATW). Accordingly, they were hardly
rigorous, and contribute to making, I'm sorry to have to use the words, a
bigger mess than already existed in this etymological provenance.

I pretty well expended my summary load -- in 'Chicago Etymology Revisted' -
of my last year-and-a-half of investigation. After these five years, I can't
(gulp!) tell you what the etymology is; I can only, with reasonable
confidence, tell you what it isn't. I DO have directions for further
research, which I'm seriously contemplating. I invite comments and technical

Carl Jeffrey Weber

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