Date: Thu, 17 Oct 1996 09:39:50 EDT


Subject: Re: soda, pop, & upstate NY

Lynne employs her worm-can-opener as follows:

(can of worms ahead): i think it's become clear in our old

discussions of this that we can't even say there are 2 (upstate and

downstate) sets of definitions of "upstate" and "downstate"--many

people consider themselves upstaters who other upstaters don't

consider to be upstaters. so, to me, anything south of albany isn't

upstate. i think central/western new yorkers use "upstate" to mean

central/western new york (perhaps i got this idea from the old

_rochester democrat and chronicle_ sunday magazine, _upstate_, which

only dealt with things including and west of the finger lakes.) when

i tell people i'm from upstate new york, an awful lot say "oh, the

adirondacks!", which i wouldn't describe as "upstate new york" but as

"the adirondacks". (i guess for me, "upstate new york" means `part

of the state that doesn't have its own other name'.)

This last point, on "Upstate N.Y." being restricted to those north-of-West-

chester (or whatever the necessary geographical constraint is) places that

don't have their own monikers can't really be part of the MEANING of "upstate",

but only a factor which affects its use under certain conditions, in the way

that 'finger' may be used so as to exclude 'thumb' (the lexical pragmatic

analogue of the elsewhere principle). Under other conditions, such as when

Upstate is contrasted with Downstate (or whatever we want to call it--perhaps

that same principle leads us to generally abjure "Downstate" in favor of

"the City", "the Metropolitan area", etc.), "Upstate" does indeed include the

Adirondacks. Thus Edmund Wilson's book of reminiscences about his days spent

at his home in Lewis County, in the foothills of the Adirondacks, is called

"Upstate: Records and Recollections of Northern New York" (Farrar, Straus &

Giroux, 1971). On Lynne's point (not reproduced above) that Rockford, Illinois

--a little north but mostly west of Chicago--can count as "downstate", I wonder

if in the possible world in which the secessionists of Staten Island are

successful and they get the fifth borough to incorporate as a separate unit

from the City, Staten Island will then come to count as part of upstate N.Y.

geographically, as some would say it already is psychically.