A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 10, 2009
Maven or Mavin

A “maven” (or “mavin") is an expert in a certain field. The word comes from Yiddish and Hebrew is is first cited in English in 1907. Heinz used the word “mayvin’ to flavor its food advertisements in Jewish periodicals (starting in 1947). Vita Herring featured a “beloved herring maven” in its commercials (starting in 1964).

“Language maven” is cited in print from 1978 (referring to newsman Eric Sevareid).  New York Times “On Language” columnist William Safire (1929-2009) was widely called the “language maven” from his column that began in 1979. Safire’s columns were collected in many books, including two with “maven’ in the title—Language Maven Strikes Again (1990) and Quoth the Maven (1993). Safire was often called both a “maven” and a “pundit,” but he declared in 1985: “I am a language maven and a political pundit. Those two nouns, one of them relatively new to English ("maven"—ed.), have quite different meanings. A maven is a self-proclaimed expert.”

New York City food writer Arthur Schwartz has had the website “The Food Maven’ since 1999.


Wikipedia: Maven
A maven (also mavin) is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from the Hebrew, via Yiddish, and means one who understands, based on an accumulation of knowledge.

Hiistory
The word comes from the Yiddish meyvn and Hebrew mevin (מבֿין), with the same meaning, which in turn derives from the Hebrew binah, meaning understanding. It was first recorded in English around 1952, and popularized in the 1960s by a series of commercials for Vita Herring created by Martin Solow, featuring “The Beloved Herring Maven.” The “Beloved Herring Maven“ ran in radio ads from 1964-1968, and was then brought back in 1983 with Allan Swift, the original voice of the Maven.

Many sites credit Vita with popularizing the word Maven. An example of print advertisement including the Maven: “Get Vita at your favorite supermarket, grocery or delicatessen. Tell them the beloved Maven sent you. It won’t save you any money, but you’ll get the best herring”.

Since the 1980s it has become more common since William Safire adapted it to describe himself as “the language maven”. The word is mainly confined to American English, but had not yet appeared with the publication of the 1976 edition of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. Numerous individuals and entities now affix maven or mavin to indicate their expertise in a particular area.

In network theory and sociology, a maven is someone who has a disproportionate influence on other members of the network.[citation needed] The role of mavens in propagating knowledge and preferences has been established in various domains, from politics to social trends.

Usage
Malcolm Gladwell used it in his book The Tipping Point (Little Brown, 2000) to describe those who are intense gatherers of information and impressions, and so are often the first to pick up on new or nascent trends. The popularity of the work of Safire and Gladwell has made the word widely used in their particular contexts. Gladwell also suggests that mavens may act most effectively when in collaboration with connectors - i.e., those people who have wide network of casual acquaintances by whom they are trusted, often a network that crosses many social boundaries and groups. Connectors can thus easily and widely distribute the advice or insights of a maven.

In the afterword of The Tipping Point, Gladwell described a “maven trap” as a method of obtaining information from mavens. In the book he gave the example of the toll-free telephone number on the back of a bar of Ivory soap, which one could call with questions or comments about the product. Gladwell’s opinion is that only those who are passionate or knowledgeable about soap would bother to call and that this is a method by which the company could inexpensively glean valuable information about their market.

In the book The Human Fabric (Aviri, 2004), Bijoy Goswami uses the term to describe one of three core energies in people, organizations and society. 

Wiktionary: language maven
Noun
language maven
1. A self-appointed authority on language usage.
Quotations
2000: The teachers are fighting a losing battle because even the language mavens are losing their grip on the distinction. — Steven Pinker in Words and Rules ISBN 0060958405, p. 77

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online
Main Entry: ma·ven
Variant(s): also ma·vin \ˈmā-vən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Yiddish meyvn, from Late Hebrew mēbhīn
Date: 1950
: one who is experienced or knowledgeable : expert; also : freak 4a

(Oxford English Dictionary)
maven, n.
chiefly N. Amer.
[< Yiddish meyvn (plural mevinim) expert, connoisseur < Hebrew mn person with understanding, teacher, participle of hn understand, attend to, teach.
The currency of the word is said to have been boosted by the advertising campaign for Vita Herring, launched in the United States in 1964 (see quot. 1965).]
An expert, a connoisseur; a knowledgeable enthusiast, an aficionado.
1950 Jewish Standard (Toronto) June 36 (advt.) Both of these epicures aptly describe the ‘pareve’, easy-to-fix dish that wins the applause of every ‘mayvin’.
1952 N.Y. Times Mag. 21 Sept. 58 The most trying type [of customer] of all..is the ‘mayvin’. The word is of Yiddish origin, has entered the language.
1965 Hadassah News Let. Apr. 30 (advt.) Get Vita at your favorite supermarket, grocery or delicatessen. Tell them the beloved Maven sent you. It won’t save you any money: but you’ll get the best herring.
1969 Time 12 Sept. 78 Much of the credit for the Cinderella publishing story goes to Robert Gottlieb, then the editorial genie in residence at Simon & Schuster, now the mavin at Alfred Knopf.
1985 Maledicta 8 125, I don’t think your project is exactly the answer to a dictionary mayven’s prayer.
1991 Eng. Today Oct. 57/2, I have in mind such English language mavens as William Safire and Robert MacNeil.

Google Books
December 1907, The Maccabaean, pg. 236, col. 2:
“Yes, we admit that you are a mavin.”
“Well, then, if I am a good judge,” said the chazan triumphantly, “then I tell you that I am a good chazan and conduct the services excellently.”

Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
18 April 1947, The Jewish Criterion, pg. 34, col. 4:
AN INTERESTING RECIPE FOR THE JEWISH HOME
From the HEINZ HOME INSTITUTE
(...)
Below we give you a teted recipe for a delicious sauce that is bound to appeal to the goose, the gander and the “mayvin,” male or female.

Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project
2 January 1948, The Jewish Criterion, pg. 2, col. 1 ad:
Grandma, no doubt, speaks of Heinz Kosher Baked Beas as “meichel.” Her enthusiastic grandchild might call them “swell.” A rather free translation! But both of these epicures aptly describe the “pareve,” easy-to-fix dish that wins applause of every “mayvin.”

June 1950. The Jewish Standard (Toronto), pg. 36 ad:
Grandma, no doubt, speaks of Heinz _Vegetarian_ Baked Beans as a “meichel.” Her enthusiastic grandchild might call them “swell.” A rather free translation!  But both of these epicures aptly describe the “pareve,” easy-to-fix dish that wins the applause of every “mayvin.” Oven-baked until golden-brown and fairly bursting with tenderness, Heinz Vegetarian Beans are drenched in a rich, savory tomato sauce.  “Swell” or “meichel,” they’re mighty good eating!
HEINZ
BAKED BEANS
They’re Pareve

September-October 1950, Jewish Life, back cover (pg. 106):
A “Meichel” for a “Mevin.”
(Heinz Oven-Baked Beans—ed.)

Google Books
Between Day and Dark
By Charles Angoff
New York, NY: T. Yoseloff
1959
Pg. 358:
A great mayvin (expert) in American politics I am not,...

Time magazine
FROM ABE’S CABE TO ZOOLY
A Slang Sampler
Monday, Jul. 11, 1960
(...)
mayvin (Yiddish clothing-store cant)—a know-it-all customer

9 December 1965, New York (NY) Times, “You, Too, Can Be a Herring Maven,” pg. 71:
Apparently the urge to be a “herring maven” is too much to resist for many people because more than 1,000 have sent for their official herring-maven kits. “Maven” is a Yiddish word that means “expert” or “connoisseur.” The kit, a herring fork and a button reading “I’m a Herring Maven,” was offered for $1.10.

Google News Archive
4 May 1978, Virgin Island Daily News (Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands), pg. 2, col. 2:
Language maven Eric Sevareid—a broadcast newsman for many years—refuses to blame television for the current state of the English language. In a speech before newspaper publishers in Atlanta, Sevareid suggested that television reflects—rather than determines—popular word usage.

New York (NY) Times
ADVERTISING; Beloved Herring Maven Is Returning to Solow
By PHILIP DOUGHERTY
Published: May 16, 1983
One of the favorite characters in advertising for those who were still listening to radio from 1964 to 1969 was the Beloved Herring Maven, who was created by Martin Solow, then head of Solow/Weston.

The client was Vita Herring, which saw its sales go from $19 million, to $67 million.
(...)
Allan Swift, the original voice of the Maven, is preparing for his dramatic return.

Google News Archive
3 February 1985, Ocala (FL) Star-Banner, “Mavens, Pundits Are Dissimilar” by William Safire, pg. 5E, col. 1:
I am a language maven and a political pundit. Those two nouns, one of them relatively new to English, have quite different meanings.

A maven is a self-proclaimed expert. When someone says, “I am a maven,” however, a note of self-mockery is added, as if to say, “and if I’m not such an expert, sue me.”

OCLC WorldCat record
Marvelous magic math mavin
Author: Joshua Lichtenstein; Rina Ron; Hillel Lichtenstein; Educational Activities, inc.
Publisher: Freeport, N.Y. : Educational Activities, 1986.
Edition/Format: Computer file : 5.25 in. disc : Program : No Linguistic Content
Summary: A highly interactive math puzzles program which includes games on binary math, the division algorithm, and remainder theory.

OCLC WorldCat record
Language maven strikes again
Author: William Safire
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, ©1990.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed

OCLC WorldCat record
The mind of the marketing maven: ideas, thoughts, observations, knowledge, and understanding about the consumer marketplace
Author: Lawrence H Zisman
Publisher: Princeton, N.J. : Oceanic Press, ©1990.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Quoth the maven
Author: William Safire
Publisher: New York : Random House, ©1993.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed

OCLC WorldCat record
Arthur Schwartz: http://www.TheFoodMaven.com
Author: Arthur Schwartz
Publisher: [S.l.] : A. Schwartz, ©1999-
Edition/Format: Downloadable computer file : Document : English
Summary: This Web site is the official on-line resource of the work and resource of Arthur Schwartz, nicknamed “the food maven.” Visitors will learn that the term “maven” is Yiddish for connoisseur and that Schwartz spend 30 years as a newspaper food editor and restaurant critic in New York. Discover Schwartz’s influence in his current line of work as the host of a daily talk-radio program called “Food Talk” on WOR 710AM, as well as writing cookbooks, teaching cooking and lecturing. The site even contains some favorite recipes to try at home! 

(Trademark)
Word Mark MAVEN
Translations THE WORD “MAVEN” IS THE HEBREW EQUIVALENT OF THE WORD “CONNOISSEUR.”
Goods and Services (EXPIRED) IC 029. US 046. G & S: HERRING, GEFILTE FISH, AND DILL PICKLES. FIRST USE: 19670202. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19670202
Mark Drawing Code (1) TYPED DRAWING
Serial Number 72264472
Filing Date February 13, 1967
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Registration Number 0833772
Registration Date August 15, 1967
Owner (REGISTRANT) VITA FOOD PRODUCTS, INC. CORPORATION NEW YORK 644-54 GREENWICH ST. 10014 NEW YORK NEW YORK 10014
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator DEAD

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (1) Comments • Saturday, October 10, 2009 • Permalink


I worked at Solow Wexton Advertising during the
time that Vita Herring was an account at rge agency. Martin Solow was a greeat and inovative
copy writer, while president of the agency.
We were all part of a wonderfuk team.

Posted by Allan Greene  on  07/28  at  01:36 PM

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