Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 17 04:22:10 UTC 2004

At 12:31 PM -0500 2/14/04, Beverly Flanigan wrote:
>Maybe that's where it originated (I have no idea), but the few people I
>know who've used it have no Italian ancestry, so they picked it up
>somewhere.  I'm under the impression that it caught on because it avoids
>the "ageism" associated with "grandma."
>At 08:43 AM 2/14/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>>I have always assumed that the "nana" = grandmother speakers were
>>simply using a phonetically altered form of Italian "nonna." If this
>>is not the obvious etymology, I'm quite happy to give it up.

Is there a connection between "nonna" and "nanny"?  That has been the
standard label (and name) for a maternal grandmother in at least one
Jewish (and non-Italian) family for generations.

Note that the aforementioned "Nana" in Peter Pan was actually a nanny
(as well as a sheepdog), but not a grandmother.

The AHD offers two meanings for "nana", 'grandmother' and 'nanny',
and attributes it to "baby-talk origin", without mentioning Ital.


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