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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 04, 2009
Political Pundit (Punditry)

"Pundit” is a Sanskrit word (cited in print from the 1600s) meaning “a learned man.” Modern “pundits” are experts or commentators in their fields. A “pundit” is sometimes thought to be a person who adds witty analysis or “puns,” but the word “pun” is derived from Italian.

Anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan formed a Pundit Club in Rochester, New York, in 1854. A Pundit Club was formed at Yale University in 1884 and there was also a Pundit Club in Buffalo, New York, by the 1890s. The word “punditry’ (what pundits do) is cited in print from 1920.

The “political pundit” is one of the most popular of all pundits and is cited in print from before 1850. One internet political writer calls himself Allahpundit and two popular internet political blogs are called Instapundit and Gateway Pundit.

New York (NY) Times political columnist William Safire (1929-2009) called himself a language maven and a political pundit. Safire—dubbed a “Prolific Purveyor Of Punditry” in a 1990 Time magazine profile—wrote in 1990: “Pundit is an expert on nothing but an authority on everything, a harmless nudge.” Safire outlined “14 points of punditry” in a 1998 column (below).

Wikipedia: Pundit (expert)
A pundit is someone who offers to mass-media his or her opinion or commentary on a particular subject area (most typically political analysis, the social sciences or sport) on which they are knowledgeable. The term has been increasingly applied to popular media personalities. In certain cases, it may be used in a derogatory manner as well.

The term originates from the Sanskrit term paṇḍitá, meaning “learned” (see also Pandit). It refers to someone who is erudite in various subjects and who conducts religious ceremonies and offers counsel to the king.

From at least the early 19th century, a Pundit of the Supreme Court in Colonial India was an officer of the judiciary who advised British judges on questions of Hindu law. In Anglo-Indian use, pundit also referred to a native of India who was trained and employed by the British to survey inaccessible regions beyond the British frontier.

Current use
Speculation exists that the term’s contemporary use may have its origins in a Yale University society known as “The Pundits” which, founded in 1884, developed a reputation for including among its members the school’s most incisive and humorous critics of contemporary society. The group’s late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century focus on lampooning the social and political world were well-documented in the university’s yearbook and the Yale Daily News, the entries of which are considered among the first use of the term “Pundit” to refer to a critic of or expert on contemporary matters. Several members of the society have also gone on to become leading political pundits, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy expert Daniel Yergin. Other notable Yale Pundits include A. Whitney Griswold, Lewis H. Lapham and Joe Lieberman.

In the English-speaking West, pundits write signed articles in print media (blurbs included), and appear on radio, television, or the internet with opinions on current events. Television pundits may also be referred to as talking heads. In a BBC television interview following the murder of John Lennon, former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson insisted that in selecting the Beatles for OBEs, he was acting on his belief that the pop group was doing something new that ‘the pundits’ (by which he presumably meant people such as newspaper music critics) had not recognised. This derogatory use of the word is an indication of the low esteem in which commentators (particularly cultural commentators) are held in the Britain (particularly by politicians).

Punditry has become a more popular vehicle in nightly newscasts on American cable news networks. A rise of partisanship among popular pundits began with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel. His opinion-oriented format led him to ratings success and has led others, including Lou Dobbs, Keith Olbermann, and Nancy Grace, to express their opinions on matters on their own programs.

Internet authors trying to create a name for themselves by non-traditional means, may refer to themselves as pundits, and in fact can be considered experts of their particular life experiences or observations.

In sports commentating, a “pundit” or Color commentator may be partnered with a play-by-play announcer who will describe the action while asking the pundit for analysis. Alternatively, pundits may be asked for their opinions during breaks in the play.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Main Entry: pun
Pronunciation: \ˈpən\
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps from Italian puntiglio fine point, quibble — more at punctilio
Date: 1662
: the usually humorous use of a word in such a way as to suggest two or more of its meanings or the meaning of another word similar in sound

(Oxford English Dictionary)
pundit, n.
[< Sanskrit paita learned man, use as noun of paita (adjective) learned, skilled. Compare later PANDECT n.2
The Sanskrit word was also borrowed into other European languages; compare French pandit (1819; 1614 as pandite, 1663 as pandet, 1667 in the passage translated in quot. 1672 at sense 1a as pendet), Spanish pondito (beginning of the 17th cent.), Portuguese pandito (late 16th cent.), Italian pandit (a1652 as pandito).
The form pundett (see quot. 1661 at sense 1a) is recorded in a 1785 transcript.]
1. a. Now usu. in form pandit. In India: a learned or wise person; a person with knowledge of Sanskrit and Indian philosophy, religion, and law; (also) a Hindu priest or teacher. Sometimes used as a title of respect.
In quot. 1886: an Indian person trained and employed under the British raj to survey regions beyond the British frontier in India.
1661 H. REVINGTON et al. Let. 10 June in W. Foster Eng. Factories India 1661-4 (1923) 7 (modernized text) We expect every day to be called by Rowgee Pundett.
1672 H. OLDENBURG tr. F. Bernier Continuation Memories conc. Empire Great Mogul III. 159 Their first study is of the Hanscrit, which is a Language..not known but by the Pendets [Fr. Pendets].
1698 J. FRYER New Acct. E.-India & Persia 146 Into Places of Trust and Authority he puts only Brachmins, or their Substitutes, viz. Pundits..for Physicians.
1783 J. O. JUSTAMOND tr. G. T. F. Raynal Philos. Hist. Europeans in Indies I. 60 The Pundits or Bramin lawyers, still speak the original language in which these ordinances were composed.
1792 T. MAURICE Indian Antiq. I. Pref. 87 In an ancient Shaster..translated by Colonel Dow’s pundeet.
1837 J. C. MAITLAND Lett. from Madras (1843) 86 Then there is the Pundit, or principal Hindoo law expoundera Bramin.
1862 F. MAX MÜLLER Chips (1880) I. v. 119 All our great Sanskrit Scholars..used to work..with a Pandit at each elbow, instead of the grammar and dictionary.
1886 H. YULE & A. C. BURNELL Hobson-Jobson 560/2 The Pundit who brought so much fame on the title was the late Nain Singh, C.S.I.
1. b. Pundit of the Supreme Court n. now hist. an officer in the Indian judiciary with the responsibility of advising British judges on questions of Hindu Law.
The office ceased to exist in 1862, after the constitution of the High Court.
1827 J. PEGGS Suttees’ Cry to Brit. vii. 77 In the Bewasta, received from Mutoonjoy Pundit of the Supreme Court in 1817, respecting the burning of Hindoo widows and other sacrifices among the hindoos, Menu is not mentioned among the various authorities quoted.
1886 H. YULE & A. C. BURNELL Hobson-Jobson 560/2 The Pundit of the Supreme Court was a Hindu Law-officer, whose duty it was to advise the English Judges..on questions of Hindu Law.
1993 R. KUMAR Hist. Doing ii. 9 In 1817, Mrityunjaya Vidyalamkara, the Chief Pundit of the Supreme Court, announced that sati had no shastric sanction.
2. In extended use: an expert in a particular subject or field, esp. one frequently called upon to give his or her opinion to the public; a commentator, a critic.
1816 ‘QUIZ’ Grand Master III. 73 For English pundets condescend Th’ observatory to ascend.
1862 Sat. Rev. 15 Mar. 296 A point upon which the doctors of etiquette and the pundits of refinement will differ.
1896 G. SAINTSBURY Hist. 19th Cent. Lit. v. 213 Hallam..an honoured pundit and champion of the Whig party.
1924 C. E. MONTAGUE Right Place xiv. 222 To say things and try to believe them, just because some aesthetic pundit or critical mandarin has said them before.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
punditry, n.
The actions, opinions, or characteristics of a pundit; pronouncements or behaviour typical of a pundit.
1926 T. M. HEALY in Pioneer Ref. Spelling Apr. 14, I..decry the punditry of Civil Service Commissioners in making so-called orthography a test subject.
1930 Times Lit. Suppl. 13 Nov. 932/2 His latest book..blends a good deal of punditry with its collectors’ gossip.
1948 J. STEINBECK Russ. Jrnl. i. 3 News has become a matter of punditry. A man sitting at a desk in Washington or New York reads the cables and rearranges them to fit his own mental pattern and his by-line.
1978 Bull. Amer. Acad. Arts & Sci. Jan. 22, I have caught him in a moment of punditry and while he was yielding to a weakness common to critics.
1999 Courier-Mail (Brisbane) 12 June 17/1 The words sound like the latest piece of punditry decrying the state of the entertainment industry.

Google Books
The English party’s excursion to Paris, in Easter week 1849: To which is added, a trip to America
By John Bill
London: Longman and Company
Pg. 287:
19TH JANUARY TO 2nd FEBRUARY (1828—ed.)
At Washington city; where I gave diligent heed to the doctrines of their legal and political pundits, in the capitol and elsewhere.

26 July 1850, Vermont Journal, pg. 4:
“This, ladies and gentlemen, and learned pundits of Hull, is my herring box, containing my Sagadahoek Herring.”
(Hull correspondent of Boston Courier—ed.)

Google Books
Parliamentary Debates (Australia)
December 6, 1870
Pg. 421:
I don’t pretend to be a political pundit, but I have watched the progress of this country from boyhood; and with no other object than the interest of the country at heart.

OCLC WorldCat record
P.B. Randolph, the “learned pundit,” and “man with two souls.” His curious life, works, and career. : The great free-love trial. Randolph’s grand defence. His address to the jury, and mankind. The verdict.
Author: Paschal Beverly Randolph
Publisher: [Boston] : Randolph Printing House, 89 Court Street, Boston., [1872]
Edition/Format: Book : English

22 June 1873, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 2, col. 1:
When your third-rate political pundit, or your would-be monopolist comes in, hitches up his chair and waxes confidential, you pin him at once.

15 May 1879, Cedar Rapids (IA) Times, pg. 2, col. 4:
A certain political pundit, known to fame as “Cerro Gordo” Williams, hailing from Kentucky, said in congress the other day: “Elections for congress are state elections, and congressmen themselves are state officers and not federal officers.”
Jun 19, 1880, All the Year Round, ‘The Duke’s Children” by Anthony Trollope, pg. 127, col. 1:
As it was he was so handed over from one political pundit to another, was so button-holed by Sir Timothy, so chaffed as to the address by Phineas Finn, and at last so occupied with the whole matter, that he was compelled to sit in his place till he had heard Nidderdale make his speech.

Google Books
December 1884, Yale Literary Magazine, pg. 129:
On Saturday, the (November—ed.) 22d, the formation of The Pundit Club was announced. The club is a sophomore organization and has for its object a free discussion of current topics in essay or debate.

OCLC WorldCat record
Pundit Club : programs and notes
Author: Walter L Brown; Walter L Mrs Donor: Brown; Pundit Club (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Publisher: [Buffalo, N.Y. : The Club, [1892-1894]
Edition/Format: Book : English
Summary: Includes the rules, minutes, membership list, and postage and printing expenses of the Pundit Club of Buffalo, New York.

Google Books
Life and sermons of Jonathan Allen : Ph.D., D.D., LL.D., president of Alfred University
By Abigail A. Allen
Alfred, NY (?): Published by subscription
Pg. 127:
The names adopted were ‘Prex, ‘Parson,’ ‘Press,’ and ‘Pundit,’ the latter because of the outrageous way in which he punned it.

OCLC WorldCat record
A Pundit publisher: being an appreciation of John A. Hill, with some account of his doings
Author: Elbert Hubbard; Society of the Philistines (East Aurora, N.Y.)
Publisher: East Aurora, N.Y. : The Roycrofters, [190-?]
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The pun book; collected, ed. and arranged from the notes of a learned pundit
Author: T J Carey
Publisher: New York, T.J. Carey & co., [1903]
Edition/Format: Book : English

Google Books
24 April 1920, The Living Age, “Architecture as Form in Civilization” by William Richard Lethaby, pg. 240:
All the ancient arts of men are subject to the diseases of pedantry and punditry — music, painting, poetry all suffer from isolation and professionalism.
16 October 1920, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Philosopher of Folly” by Ted Robinson, pg. 6:
However, this is mere grubbing. Let Kritikos now spring his criticism or jest or punditry, or whatever it was for which he required a lead from us.

OCLC WorldCat record
Reminiscences of “The Pundit Club”
Author: William C Morey
Publisher: [Rochester? N.Y., 1923?]
Edition/Format: Book : English

Time magazine
National Affairs: Rule Book
Monday, Sep. 03, 1928
Tonic to voters who have gone often to the polls, sedative to voters who have never gone before, is a book, published last week, by Frank Richardson Kent, eminently readable political pundit of the Baltimore Sun.*

Mr. Kent’s daily column, “The Great Game of Politics,” is a sort of scorecard by which to tell the players. Political Behavior is a rulebook telling, for the benefit of a people whose political illusions are many, the rules by which the Great Game is played on a national scale.
* POLITICAL BEHAVIOR—Frank R. Kent—Morrow ($2.50).

Time magazine
The Press: Queen Wallis
Monday, Nov. 09, 1936
Newspundit Walter Lippmann of the New York Herald Tribune applauded the fact that nowhere in the British Isles had any newspaper or magazine yet coupled the names of the King and Mrs. Simpson, or the facts of their friendship and her divorce.

Google Books
Rochester, the flower city: 1855-1890
By Blake McKelvey
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
Pg. 48:
The Pundit Club organized by Lewis H. Morgan in 1854 served in its scholarly fashion to keep a select group abreast of the intellectual currents of the day.

OCLC WorldCat record
One star final; marginal notes of a cub reporter at the turn of the century and later when he became a manufacturer and political pundit. Interviews with the great and near great that did not make the front pages of the newspapers.
Author: Herman Blum
Publisher: Philadelphia, Blumhaven Library and Gallery, 1953.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Popular pundit: Fanny Fern and the emergence of the American newspaper columnist
Author: Elaine G Breslaw
Publisher: 1956.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript : English

Google Books
The letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer.
By Robert Frost, Louis Untermeyer and kathleen Johnston Morrison
New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Pg. 311:
In almost the same breath I thought of you over there not two hundred miles away with your wisdom of this world, a pundit who has punned it without money and without price to all comers.

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.
THe hindi word for “learned man” was popularized in the United States by Henry R. Luce, founder of Time magazine, who applied it to Walter Lippmann, the columnist and full-time sage.

Time magazine
WILLIAM SAFIRE: Prolific Purveyor Of Punditry
By WALTER SHAPIRO Monday, Feb. 12, 1990

New York (NY) Times
On Language; Pundit-Bashing
Published: Sunday, May 27, 1990
Pundit is an expert on nothing but an authority on everything, a harmless nudge.

Google News Archive
27 May 1990, Gainesville (FL) Sun, “Pundits have probably plummeted from pedestals” by William Safire, pg. 4G:
As long as pundit had a self-mocking connotation, writers of opinion in journalism could apply it to themselves with impunity; however, in recent years, some of us have taken to using it without the necessary disrespect, and as a result have given political figures a handy term with which to castigate us.

Minneapolis-St. Paul (MN) Star-Tribune
Political pundits
Published on July 5, 1996
Anyone who cruises the media for news about public affairs knows the names, faces and voices of the political pundits. William Safire, from his perch on the New York Times op-ed page; Rush Limbaugh, with his three hours a day on the radio; and George Will, Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson, as they assemble at the end of ABC-TV’s “This Week with David Brinkley” to chew over the week’s news, are among the nation’s most recognizable

New York (NY) Times
Published: Monday, April 20, 1998
What is a pundit?

The word is from the Sanskrit pandita, ‘’learned person,’’ but the current meaning was expressed by Dwight Eisenhower, who denounced ‘’sensation-seeking columnists and commentators.’’ A language maven who plays Jekyll to my Hyde defines it as ‘’opinion monger.’’

Pundit today carries a pompous connotation. We purveyors of points of view embrace the term self-mockingly, as if to say disarmingly: ‘’See? We’re not pretentious at all, so you readers should show gratitude for our certitude.’’

Here are the 14 points of punditry. (...)

5 November 2000, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “How the term ‘pundit’ evolved” by Ira J. Hadnot:
The word “pundit” originally was associated with the pursuit of knowledge. “Pundit” is derived from the Hindu honorific, “pandit,” which described a person of great learning. In Sanskrit, the word “pandita” means scholar. Use of the word in the American vernacular first surfaced in 1854 when a group of Rochester, N.Y., men founded “The Club,” which was devoted to a serious…

New York (NY) Times
State Of the Pundit
Published: Monday, January 7, 2002

25 January 2005, Santa Rosa (CA) Press Democrat, “Safire’s Last: An influential pundit hangs up his keyboard”:
Safire came to punditry after working as a speech writer for President Richard Nixon—a connection that offended early critics of his Times column.

New York (NY) Times
January 7, 2007
Black Tie Optional
The Pundits, founded in 1884 as a society of “campus wits,” have a history of rebelling against Yale tradition, often through elaborate pranks. They organize six to eight covert naked parties a year, which attract anywhere from 30 to 300 people to off-campus houses, neglected rooms in classroom buildings and even small libraries on campus. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Military/Religion /Health • (0) Comments • Sunday, October 04, 2009 • Permalink