interesting concepts in linguistic research

In Wallace Rice papers, Newberry Library, Box 5, Folder 119

Bell Telephone System
Technical Publications
June 1930
Mongraph B-491

The Words and Sounds of Telephone Conversations
by N.R. French, C.W. Carter, Jr, and Walter Koenig, Jr.
American Telephone and Telegraph Company

“A study of the kind and frequency of occurrence of words and simple speech sounds obtained from telephone conversations on toll circuits terminating in New York City.”

Wallace Rice on Chicago Stars

From a 1928 letter by Wallace Rice to a Mr. Ettleson:

To return to the six-pointed stars in the Chicago municipal flag. By the terms of the competition under the rules laid down by the Chicago Flag Commission in 1917, the use of religious symbols, which included the cross, the star and crescent, and the two triangles, one reversed and superimposed, was barred, for obvious reasons. [1] The five-pointed star, symbol of a soverign State, was also considered out of place, for reasons which I hope have been made equally obvious here. Chicago is a city.

After more than four hundred designs had been made by me, I finally struck upon such a six-pointed star as had never appeared in any flag before, peculiarly and singularly a Chicago star, made by a Chicagoan for his greatly loved city, by an American in the tenth generation in this country, whose ancestors had fought against Great Britain, for the most American of American cities. It differs from all other stars in use in European heraldry and in State and National flags and coats-of-arms, and is specifically for and of Chicago and nowhere else on earth because its points are straight and not like the usual heraldric etioile curved like flames, and because these points subtend an angle of only thirty degrees, instead of the sixty degrees subtended in the star made by superimposing a triangle.

  1. According my copy of the rules, on file at the Chicago Public Library’s municipal reference collection, no rule specifically bars religious imagery.

Suggestion #7

Suggestions Submitted for the Guidance and Information of Contestants in the Public Competitive Contest for a Suitable Design of a Municipal Flag for the City of Chicago — Wallace Rice, 1916.

Suggestion 7.

The visibility at distances of the several colors and of the different portions of the flag itself should be taken into account in determining its proportions, rather than divisions of mathematical exactitude. In other words, it is the effect of symmetry, not the mere physical fact, which should be taken into account. The French, for example, after extensive experimentation, divide their tricolor so that the blue next the staff has thirty parts in a hundred, the white in the middle thirty-three parts, and the red in the fly thirty-seven, and thus secure the appearance of an equal division.

I suppose this explains why all the descriptions of the flag have tortured syntax — the “slightly less than a sixth” language. Rice wanted the white and blue stripes to appear to have the same width, and so they must be slightly different.

Good, Better, Best

[In the Chicago Daily Tribune, Apr 4, 1939. p. 12]

Good, Better, Best Streets

Consider Good street, Better street, and Best avenue. The first two ran east from Aberdeen street one and two blocks respectively south of Polk street. They were only a block long. The first was rechristened Hope street in 1935 and is now known as Cabrini street. Best avenue [named Wilton avenue in 1937] is two blocks long running south from Diversey next east of the elevated railroad.

Walter B. Smith

It looks like Better street is now known as Arthington street.

Offer Design For City Flag; What It Means

[from the Chicago Daily Tribune, March 29th, 1917, p.13]


Design for a Chicago Flag, to be emblematic of a robust municipal ideal, was submitted to the city council yesterday by the Chicago municipal flag commission, appointed by Mayor Thompson eighteen months ago. The commission describes the flag thus:

“Its uppermost stripe, of white, is eight inches broad; the second stripe, of blue, is nine inches; the central bar, of white, is eighteen inches, and the two lower stripes correspond with the uppermost two. Near the staff on the broad white stripe are two six pointed red stars, fourteen inches tall.”

“Viewed locally, the two blue stripes symbolize the Chicago river with its two branches and the three white bars represent the three sides of the city. The red stars stand for the Chicago fire and the World’s fair, two great influences on the city’s history. The six points in the first star stand for transportation, trade, finance, industry, populousness, and healthfulness; those in the second for religion, education, aesthetics, beneficence, justice and civism [sic].”

“Considered nationally, the blue stripes stand for the mountain ranges which flank the plain of which Chicago is the center. The central white bar stands for this plain and the two outer white bars for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.”

The flag was designed by Wallace Rice, 2701 Best avenue.

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