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Wall Street Journal should leave Boston English to trained professionals

A Wall Street Journal columnist opined today:

From 30,000 feet, Amazon’s abandonment of its proposed new headquarters in New York City might seem a chance, as Bostonian snobs like to put it, for the light to dawn on Marblehead.

Now, I love seeing Boston English in the mainstream media as much as anyone, but the author, one Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. (of the Pennsylvania Jenkinses) should either use metaphors better suited to only-in-New-York situations or perhaps consult with a professional who can explain the nuances of English as it is spoken in eastern Massachusetts.

First, the Marblehead phrase is never used in the future tense. It's a description of a now plain-as-day thing that has suddenly become clear to a dense person - sort of like a light bulb going off over somebody's head, only in a historic New England coastal town. In other words, this isn't the set of "Annie" and the light won't dawn tomorrow - because it's already dawned over people such as Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. after they've taken a class on Boston English.

Second, nobody much outside 128 will really get it (well, granted, except maybe New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who helped New Yorkers continue their tradition of electing mayors from the Boston area).

Third, it's not a phrase Boston snobs would tend to use. If anything, they'd probably look down their noses at the more plainspoken, hearty Boston speakers who are not afraid of their roots and are perfectly fine with saying something like that, khed.

Fourth, why are you even dragging Boston into this?

Yeah, yeah, I know, I have a fortunate life where this is what I have to complain about on a holiday weekend.

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Comments

Link to Boston English seems to have an extra level in it.

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I guess I should leave HTML to trained professionals! Fixed.

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They aren't draggin Boston into it, Baker and Walsh were some of the rubes begging/bribing Amazon to move here, they just lost to NY.

Plus, theres precedence. Walsh and Baker tried give hundreds of millions in corporate welfare to GE, which we are only relieved of because GE is even more of a failure than we thought and couldn't make the meager (considering subsidy per job) job numbers they promised.

So the WSJ knows politicians in Boston are up for the crony capitalism game, and getting something after NY lost/rejected it would play well politically even if it is bad economics.

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It's not like our mayor didn't promise Amazon what at the time everybody thought would be a $750-million connection between the Red and Blue lines (the price amazingly came down dramatically after the bid went in).

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Notice how Amazon went for the deeper pockets?

That alone shows how much they really intend to contribute.

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I had never specifically associated this phrase with New England, so I did some poking around.
Wikipedia lists four Marbleheads, including a very old lighthouse on the Great Lakes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marblehead.

Other Marbleheads are to be found dawning in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, according to Weather Underground drop downs.

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I've heard actual Massachusetts natives use it, even.

It pairs nicely with the riddle from when Endicott "Chub" Peabody was governor: What are the two towns named after the governor?

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Peabody, Athol, and Marblehead. To be fair I dont think anyone thought Peabody was an "Athol", but that was the joke.

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I even grew up there (in Marblehead, I mean; the one right here in good ol' MA) and I never heard that phrase used until after I left home to attend college elsewhere in New England. But, yeah, it's definitely intended to refer both to the dense rock upon which the seaside town is built and to the moment when ye olde mental lightbulb turns on & someone grasps a concept or fact that was right there all along. Locals do use it now, but I think it was actually kind of derogatory in its origins way back when. I suspect it took many years for folks in town to adopt it as a good-humored, self-deprecating expression, as they do now.

Note to Swirlygirl: Marblehead, MA, was settled in 1629 and is located on an outcropping (a "head," as it were) on the Eastern seaboard where one would surmise the sun hits pretty early on any given day. The lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio, has only been operating since about 1822, if Wikipedia is to be believed, and that state's northern coast is its only one bordering a substantial body of water (specifically, Lake Erie). It would make no sense whatsoever for the "dawn breaks" or "light dawns" phrasing to be a reference to any place called Marblehead other than the one right here on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

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Endicott (not a town, but a place and a railroad station in Dedham)
Peabody
and
Marblehead

If you really want to be nasty, and you're not in "polite company", you can substitute Athol for Marblehead...

[or does that last one get me banned for use of profanity?]

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I heard he had four places named after him: Endicott, Peabody, Marblehead, and Athol (though there's no municipality named Endicott in MA, but in other states).

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No need to trace down its origins as if it were culturally significant. (Is there a British Marblehead? Start Googling!) It so old in fact it pre-dates the arrival of Beautiful People in Marblehead. The writer confuses 2 different stories, and he doesn't seem to know either.

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Amazon already has an office here and is planning to greatly expand it. It's not HQ2 but will employ plenty of tech workers.

Boston always wins because companies want to be near the big research schools. So the idea the city "lost" is BS.

It's better to give tax breaks to colleges which pay more social dividends then any direct hand out to a company.

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Theres a better than even chance of a recession in the near future and massive HQ2 type projects may not happen in such an environment.

In that case, it may make more financial sense to expand existing offices (ex: Boston) and add jobs and infrastructure upgrades there as opposed to building an Amazon mini city as a 6th Borough of NYC.

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I grew up on the North Shore and have heard both the 'over' and 'on' versions. I prefer 'light' to 'dawn' and 'on' to 'over'. I.e. Light dawns on Marblehead.

To convey the joke to the uninitiated I believe it's best to deliver it with just the slightest pause between 'marble' and 'head' and just a tad of extra emphasis on 'head' .

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...is "Dawn breaks on Marblehead". Seems to me breaking is something many things would do when encountering marble.

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Yes, thank you! LIGHT dawns on MARble HEAD!

I grew up here and I've been saying this forever. No one outside of long-time residents has any idea what I'm talking about.

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My first job was while I was in high school at the Molly Waldo, Marblehead.
I was the nebbish dishwasher who was the easy target for the Head Chef and Sous Chef.

Instead of calling me a 'knucklehead' they'd enjoy quizzing me on what I might be doing that was in error.

"So, what are you supposed to do with that plate that Derek Sanderson just used?"

I think for a while.... Then, suddenly, it would occur to me! "Save it and sell it as Bruins memorabilia?"

"Look guys! Light dawns on 'Marble Head! LOL!"

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So many great uses for this phrase!

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