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The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

I AM LOST

 

The comments about my post yesterday have become truly bizarre. Nothing I wrote had anything at all to do with how people in Queens talk as opposed to how people in Manhattan talk. I cannot even begin to imagine where that comes from. What was I referring to? Well, I have read (obviously I have no idea whether this is true or not) that Fred Trump, Donald’s father, wanted to be accepted by the big socially well-established real estate developers who operated in Manhattan and felt shunned by them. Donald Trump, I imagine, picked up that attitude from his father. Trump’s sycophantic attitude toward those whom he perceives as strong is well known. I was simply suggesting that it extended to Bob Woodward and that that explained both why he agreed to an extended series of taped interviews and also why he tried in those interviews to sound knowledgeable, failing to do so because of his misuse of “big” words. I should have thought this was obvious from what I wrote.

 

My comment about the Columbia University Board of Trustees was based on something I heard half a century ago when I was still at Columbia. According to the story I heard, Columbia owned the land on which Rockefeller Center is built, obviously an enormously valuable property. They were charging something like $3 million a year in rent which was ridiculously below what they should have been getting. The Columbia board in those days had a heavy representation of high dollar Manhattan real estate developers who certainly should have known what that property was worth. In 1969, the year after the student uprising, we were told that Columbia was in terrible economic shape and as I heard the story, it took the next president a decade to repair the damage to Columbia’s finances.

 

What on earth does this have to do with whether it is all right to make fun of the way people in Queens talk but not all right to make fun of the way African-Americans talk? I don’t even know how one would go about making fun of the way people in Queens talk. I guess since I come from Queens I don’t think I have a Queens accent, I just talk. And at least when I was a boy there was certainly nothing that could be called a Manhattan accent although there was something that could be called a Brooklyn accent. I leave it to the linguists among my readership to decide whether there was something that could be called a Bronx accent or a Staten Island accent.

8 comments:

David Palmeter said...

I grew up in upstate NY and didn't, and don't, have an accent. Just about everyone else, who didn't come from upstate NY, did and does.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Exactly!

Jerry Fresia said...

Yes, precisely. I grew up in western Mass and the people from New York City and Boston talked funny but my family and friends just talked normal. No accent at. We sound like the guy on TV. I don't know why everyone keeps telling me that I have an accent. Interestingly though, when I tell Italians that I moved to Italy from San Francisco, many will say, "I could tell by your accent."

marcel proust said...

@David Palmeter: Exactly what do you mean by upstate? Rockland County? Several decades ago, my sister reported a conversation with a professor at her midwestern university:

Prof: What are you doing for Xmas vacation?
Sister: Going back home?
Prof: Where's that?
Sister: Upstate NY.
Prof: [who it turns out, grew up in Buffalo] What do you mean by upstate NY?
Sister: Syracuse [home of the upstate medical center]
Prof: OK then.

For the record, natives (which we were not) often pronounced Sarahcuse. They sounded funny.

David Palmeter said...

Marcel

I was born and grew up in Elmira. My parents were both from Syracuse, and I went to college in Syracuse. Went to law school in Chicago, where everyone spoke "upstate."

marcel proust said...

Harummph. Elmira is NOT upstate. Definitely southern tier. In the mental geography I grew up with, upstate NY was roughly regions 2, 4, 5 & 6 in this map

BTW, I mangled the anecdote in my previous comment. My sister's professor was testy about the use of "upstate" by people from NYC and environs to refer to anywhere north of Westchester county. Syracuse was acceptable in his view.

Matt said...

Thanks for the info on the Columbia endowment. On its face, at least, it sounds like simple negligence or incompetence, as opposed to the malfeasance in the Penn case, but it would be interesting to know more details. (Not that you should know them, just in general.)

Danny said...

'What on earth does this have to do with whether it is all right to make fun of the way people in Queens talk but not all right to make fun of the way African-Americans talk?'

Edgy or over the edge? ;)

'I don’t even know how one would go about making fun of the way people in Queens talk.'

Like this: 'I don’t even know how one would go about making fun of the way people in Queens talk.'