"baby mama" vis-a-vis "baby's mama"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 5 02:54:32 UTC 2008

Well, the Prof may have sung merely:

"A friend of mines wife"

equal to:

"The wife of a friend of mines"

I'm not a great fan of the Prof's, so I'm not sufficiently familiar
with his idiolect to speak with certainty. Some people say "yo'un" and
"mine" and others say "yo's" and "mines." Another consequence of this
lack of familiarity is that it's my experience that the true name of
"Professor Longhair" was ultimately revealed to be Roy Byrd.

It's long been my *impression* that this distinction is geographically
constrained, the first set being typical of the Western part of
Southern BE and the latter being typical of Eastern part of Southern
BE. But, as a matter of fact, I don't *know* that this is the case.
Hence, my suggestion is essentially a WAG, given that, according to
both my "knowledge" of the BE of Greater New Orleans - I've never been
there, but I've known people from there Down Home in Texas, Up
(relatively) North in Saint Louis, Out West in California, and in the
Army - and to my "theory," it *should* be the case that Byrd actually
*did* say:

"A friend of mine's wife"

However, I *think* that it should be easy enough for you, i.e., you
*personally*, to find out what the case really is. Or not. Because
it's *also* my *impression* that blacks use whatever forms are used by
r-less whites of similar sociolinguistic status in the relevant
geographical area. So, there's a possibility that, to coin a phrase,
you could look it up.


On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 3:49 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
>  Subject:      Re: "baby mama" vis-a-vis "baby's mama"
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  On Fri, May 2, 2008 at 3:16 PM,  <RonButters at aol.com> wrote:
>  >
>  >  It may be a small point, but it should be kept in mind that the absence of a
> >  overt possessive marker in AAVE is variable, not categorical (depending on
> >  the age, geographical location, and social positioning of the speaker). The
> >  assertion that "the right way to compare the grammars is just to see them as
>  >  having different ways for expressing a syntactic relationship" is true only for
> >  those speakers of varieties of AAVE who have no possessive overt possessive
>  >  marker [z] whatever.
>  And it might also vary in the speech of a given speaker, based on
>  contextual factors. In the 1950 R&B song "Bald Head", Roy Byrd (later
>  better known as Professor Longhair) sings the chorus "Where's that
>  girl hair?" several times. But elsewhere in the song he refers to "a
>  good friend of mine's wife." (I'm sure Wilson will correct me if I've
>  misheard the lyrics!) Not sure what the constraints here might be --
>  perhaps Byrd's use of the overt marker was triggered by that
>  particular type of possessive construction. Arnold Zwicky talked about
>  the construction in this Language Log post ("A friend of mine's pet
>  bear"):
>  http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003814.html
>  --Ben Zimmer
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>  The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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