Barry Popik, NYPL, "The Big Apple"

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Sun Jun 13 02:16:59 UTC 2004

    I'm troubled by Barry's message today about his frustrations in
dealing with the NYPL concerning its website's treatment of The Big
Apple. Barry is one of the most extraordinary lexical researchers
ever. He has already made important contributions to "The Big Apple",
"Windy City", "hot dog", "dude", the "show-me" expression, "yegg"
hashhouse lingo, etc. I count 76 items of his in my informal
bibliography of Comments on Etymology, and that's without the past
academic-year's issues.

    He is probably the world's foremost expert on food terminology.
His ads-l messages waiting to be developed into articles is
staggering. I co-authored the latest volume of _Studies in Slang_
with him. I'm currently preparing a book on "hot dog" which will
include much of the information he has sent me about it and which
will include him and David Shulman as authors. Next summer (2005), if
all goes according to plan, I'll prepare a 2nd edition of my "Big
Apple" monograph and have Barry listed as co-author; the new material
he discovered (which I have already published in article form with
due credit) is extraordinary and nails down John J. Fitz Gerald's
role in popularizing "the big apple" (NYC racetracks; later NYC as a
whole). The NY Historical Society is already persuaded by Barry's
work (I was able to communicate directly with a staff member there).

    Barry was the subject of a wonderful article in the Wall Street
Journal a few years ago. Gersh Kuntzman (NY Post) has written several
articles about him.
Several years ago I sent Dear Abby a letter about the origin of "The Big Apple"
(a reader had inquired about this), and I gave credit to Barry for
his work on this topic. The letter was published.

    William Safire has twice mentioned Barry in his widely read "On
Language" column, and I now thank Mr. Safire and his assistants for
providing Barry
with the favorable publicity that such mentions bring.

     So what has happened now? A few people in charge of the NYPL
research website decide to ignore Barry's messages about "The Big
Apple." Ditto for Chicago and "The Windy City." B-I-I-IG DEAL! For
this Barry's going to develop an ulcer and  somehow talk himself into
giving his apartment away? Barry, you have the respect of all who
count in this line of research--the academic and independent
scholars, the lexicographers, and the other ads-l members who have
ten times more appreciation for outstanding lexical research than the
NYPL website people will ever have.

     In any case, once the 2nd edition of "The Big Apple" book
appears, I'll make a determined effort to publicize it, and my guess
is that both the NYPL and Google people will be persuaded. Your "big
apple" research is in article form, and when it's incorporated into a
book, it can be drawn to public attention on the Internet more
effectively. This will all happen in the fullness of time. As the
Germans say, Geduld bringt Rosen.

Best. --- Jerry

More information about the Ads-l mailing list