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AWADmail Issue 177

September 10, 2005

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: David Else (mailATdavidelse.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Madison Avenue

From son of Maud, to American president, to Madison Ave - the derivation string doesn't stop there.

Madison Square Gardens gave its name to the madison - a style of indoor cycle race once held there - which in turn was picked up by Madison - now a brand of cycle clothing.


From: Scott Kruize (scottkATpacificrimcorp.com)
Subject: Madison Avenue

Throughout the constant bombardment with Madison Avenue balogna, the thing that's sustained me is MAD Magazine's satires.


From: Hugh Rawson and Margaret Miner (hugh.rawsonATsnet.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tenderloin

Some details on "tenderloin:: The New York City policeman who gave the midtown Manhattan district (the 29th precinct) its nickname was Alexander S. "Clubber" Williams (1839-1917). Previously a patrolman in Hell's Kitchen on the West Side, then a captain in the Gas House district on the East Side, Williams is said to have remarked to a friend upon learning of his transfer to midtown, where the opportunities for graft were much richer, "I've had nothing but chuck steak for a long time, and now I'm going to get a little bit of tenderloin." Williams rose to inspector and resigned (under fire) a wealthy man, with a yacht and estate in Connecticut, despite his relatively meager salary over the years. He earned his own nickname, "Clubber", through his usual method of enforcing the law, as indicated by another statement attributed to him: "There is more law at the end of a policeman's nightstick than in a decision of the Supreme Court." See Herbert Asbury's The Gangs of New York and our own Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations, scheduled for publication toward the end of this year.


From: Mark Engel (markengelATaol.com)
Subject: tenderloin

I was interested to learn that the original Tenderloin is in New York, being more familiar with (driving warily through) the one in San Francisco. But I had always thought that the name of the district was a pun on an occupational hazard of the many streetwalkers who seem to provide the basis of the area's economy. Possibly both your etymology and mine contributed to the term's currency.


From: Michael Klossner (mklossnerATasl.lib.ar.us)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Tin Pan Alley

I remember somewhere hearing a part of a city with several hospitals referred to jokingly as bedpan alley.


From: John Turnbull (globalgameATmindspring.com)
Subject: feedback: Tin Pan Alley

Bob Dylan's spoken introduction to "Bob Dylan's Blues" on the album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" (1963): "Unlike most of the songs nowadays being written uptown in Tin Pan Alley--that's where most of the folk songs come from nowadays. This, this is a song . . . this wasn't written up there. This is written somewhere down in the United States." Cue harmonica . . .

Nat Hentoff's liner notes to the album say the song was composed spontaneously, forming part of Dylan's reaction against the folk-music establishment. "Tin Pan Alley" seems to have a negative association here of churning out pre-fabricated popular songs rather than music reflecting real life.


From: Creede Lambard (creedeATpenguinsinthenight.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Bronx cheer

Comedian and social commentator George Carlin has a euphemism for the Bronx cheer: "bilabial fricative".


From: Charlie Ferrazzi (agroofATestherwellscollection.com)
Subject: Bronx Cheer

When my oldest Gran was small and exploring sounds this is one she became quite proficient at. I'm afraid we did help it along by mimicking her. Needless to say our faces were red when she chose to express herself in public with this sound!


From: Bert Forage (afo43573ATbigpond.net.au)
Subject: feedback: Bronx cheer

Co-incidence is a funny thing!

The day before the issue of AWAD containing the Bronx cheer, the expression had turned up in one of the clues to a cryptic crossword in `THE AGE', a Melbourne (Australia) daily newspaper. The clue as far as I recall, read "Conserve a Bronx cheer with a fix", the answer being "raspberry jam".

More on the Bronx cheer can be found in Wikipedia, where it is described as a `labiolingual trill'!


From: Martin Johnson (martinjohnsonATfastmail.fm)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Bronx cheer

I'm sure you've covered rhyming slang, such as raspberry and apples, many times and will do again.

One of my favourites, though, is a two-stager: " 'arris", which sounds as if it should be something to do with Harris tweed, that splendid Scots fashion item. But it's short for "Aristotle", which rhymes with "bottle", which is short for "bottle and glass", which rhymes also.

Hence "I kicked 'im in the arris."


From: Gino Robair (grobairATprimediabusines.com)
Subject: Rhyming slang

There is a similar language called Boontling (or Boont). It's a language that sprang up in the Anderson Valley in Northern California around the turn of the 20th century. It has some similarities to rhyming slang in its design, but more personalized.

For example, the word for "pay phone" is Buckywalter: the first phone in town belonged to Walter and it took a Buffalo nickel (Buckeye). The pay phone in one of the towns still has a sign above the phone box saying Buckywalter.


From: Susan Hague (suehagueATihug.co.nz)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Wall Street

It's probably just a coincidence but the slang term for an ATM machine in New Zealand and many other countries is the "hole in the wall". Maybe the nearest thing to Wall Street in a small town?


From: Robert J. Skinner (memphisbobAThotmail.com)
Subject: Word a Day: Wall Street

Tokyo has the Ginza (Silver Street).


The speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love. -Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626)

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