Phat [was Re: gay/ghey/ghay]

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OHIOU.EDU
Wed Jun 2 21:49:52 UTC 2004

At least she didn't hypercorrect to "lie dead," right?!

At 10:46 PM 6/1/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>Thank you for bringing these sites to my attention. The kinds of folk
>etymologies that you supply are completely foreign to my experience.
>I've read about them, of course, but I've never heard anything of this
>type proposed by any black person, with the sole exceptions of
>"phat(t)" and "mot," meaning "member of the tribe." (I've read
>somewhere or other that "mot" is also or originally Jewish slang.
>Interesting.) The closest that I can come to anything like these are
>locutions like "HNIC" and "HNOD,"which are always spelled out and never
>pronounced. Their meanings are, respectively, "head nigger in charge"
>and "head nigger on duty."  And there's also BYB/BYOB, meaning "bring
>your (own) bottle," and KYPIYP "keep your peter in your pants" and some
>others. These are likewise always spelled out and never pronounced.
>Since I first heard these when I was in grade school in the 'Forties
>and have never in my life met any black person who was unfamiliar with
>them, I'm probably safe in assuming they are universally known among
>black Americans. Well, among men, at least. Women, for some reason,
>never seem to be a source of slang and screw it up when they try to use
>it. E.g., a girl I knew back in the day would always hypercorrect "lay
>dead" = "relax/kick back at home by oneself, hang around the house
>doing nothing in particular," to "play dead."
>This is just a stab in the dark, but my guess is that, given that all
>of us blacks know that our dialect is itself non-standard, we have no
>motivation to perceive non-standardness as something that needs to be
>dealt with.
>FWIW, now that I think about it, the hypercorrection of "lay dead" to
>"play dead" could be understood as an instance of folk etymology.
>-Wilson Gray

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