"Wop" in 1908?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 29 22:15:43 UTC 2010

I'm stumped by "mattress" too.  Bustles were out by '08, though that would
have been my guess.  Anything earthier would presumably have been taboo
in song from a prominent publisher like Witmark.

Other than that, no suggestions.

Walking like a "kangaroo" may humorously imply a springy step. Maybe.

I wonder if Brockman inspired Chico Marx.  See photo on the cover of the
sheet music.


On Thu, Apr 29, 2010 at 5:16 PM, Baker, John M. <JMB at stradley.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John M." <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Wop" in 1908?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        What do the lyrics mean when they say that his ex-girlfriend has
> "got big mattress and a blond-a curl"?  Presumably it's not the literal
> meaning of "mattress."  I'm also a bit bemused to see the assertion that
> she "walk joust like a big Kangaroo," in a context that seems to imply
> that this would be an attractive thing to do.
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2010 4:54 PM
> Subject: Re: "Wop" in 1908?
> James Brockman's novelty song, "Wop, Wop, Wop!" (N.Y.: Witmark, 1908
> [but
> actually copyright Feb. 3, 1909]) may have helped popularize the word.
> Acc. to the N.Y. _Eve. Telegram_ (July 29, 1909)  (findable here if
> you've
> got lots of time:
> http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html<http://www.fultonhistory.com/Fu
> lton.html>
> ),
> it was "one of the quaintest Italian novelty songs of the many that have
> been offered to the public the last two or three years. It is by no less
> a
> person than Mr. James Brockman [1886-1967: ed.], the well known writer
> and
> composer.
> "The story, told in a serio-comic way, tells of the troubles of an
> Italian,
> whose feelings are injured by the various nicknames given him in this
> country, and deals with his efforts in trying to prevent being called
> first
> 'Dago,' then 'Guinie,' and last of all, 'Wop.'
> "Mr. Brockman has set the words to a tuneful and pleasing little melody
> that
> makes it a particularly bright song for a part of the social programme."
>  Check out the lyrics. They imply that "wop" was something new:
> http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.100004968/pageturner.h
> tml?page=2&section=&size=640
> JL
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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