"baby mama" does not mean what they thought it means

Marc Velasco marcjvelasco at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 3 02:17:01 UTC 2008

Ok... a few follow-up questions.... [inline]

On Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 4:35 PM, Arnold M. Zwicky
<zwicky at csli.stanford.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "baby mama" does not mean what they thought it means
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  > Are there similar terms with like construction, where a possessive has
>  > been dropped to create something like a compound word?
>  bare possessors are widespread in a number of non-standard english
>  varieties, including AAVE and some rural british dialects.  they've
>  been studied pretty extensively in AAVE.  "baby mama" is just an
>  instance of this wider phenomenon which happens to have become
>  formulaic, specialized in meaning and use.

Can I have a few examples of these unmarked possessives, from both
AAVE and rural British dialects (or at least refs to previous work)?

Would it just be as simple and generic as "my grandma house" or "my uncle car" ?

And then, in regards to the assertion in a different post that "baby
mama" == "baby carriage"...

Normally, when I think of 'baby carriage' or 'baby bottle' or 'a baby
blanket', I think of 'bottle designed for a baby' or 'blanket
appropriately sized for a baby' and the like, not necessarily a
particular baby's blanket, the first noun of the NP being merely
descriptive and not possessively so.  This is the common usage, no?

So, assuming 'baby mama' ~= ''baby blanket', in practice, in a dialect
where marked and unmarked possessives are both common, are there other
strategies, or usages to help distinguish a possessive case (baby
mama) from a descriptive case (baby blanket).  Or do speakers merely
find no problem distinguishing them?


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