"Baby daddy, -ies / baby mama(s)"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 18 15:13:55 UTC 2006

Thank you, Ben, for the reference. Unfortunately, I lost interest in reading
the article at the point at which I came across the standard
(unconsciously?-) racist claim that some aspect of black-American culture
originated somewhere else or, as the article states, is merely a "variant"
of something that originated somewhere else, as though Ockham's Razor didn't
exist. Can anyone seriously believe that "father" is so foreign to black
Americans that they would be motivated to "translate" it into "daddy"?

This prophet-without-honor-in-his-own-country bit has really gotten tired.
It's like the description, in the '60's in an article in NewsTime, of the
black-American R&B song from the '50's, Work With Me, Annie, written and
originally recorded by the same black American who wrote and originally
recorded the song, The Twist (no, it wasn't Chubby Checker) as a "typical
reggae." The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I know that a lot of black Americans go for this okey-doke. Indeed, this
attitude may even have originated with black Americans with a serious
inferiority complex who believe that African-American culture is worthless,
unless, like European-American culture, it can be traced to the other side
of the Atlantic Ocean. They don't realize that starting a culture from
nothing as strangers in a strange land  is a far more impressive
accomplishment than merely continuing the left-over odds and ends of
some random pre-existing African culture(s). They seem not to understand
that black Americans don't *come* from Africa; rather, they were *taken*
from Africa.


On 5/17/06, 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 daddy, -ies / baby mama(s)"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On 5/17/06, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> > These terms appear to have become standard in the speech of those whose
> > speech is non-standard, regardless of their race, creed, color, or place
> of
> > national origin. In fact, Judge Greg Mathis has had to decree that all
> who
> > appear before him shall use, e.g. "the father / the mother of my child,"
> > etc.and not "my baby daddy / my baby mama," etc. and that
> > no male appellant shall make bragging reference to the number of his
> baby
> > mamas and neither shall any female appellant make disparaging or any
> other
> > reference to the number of another woman's baby daddies.
> >
> > FWIW, I've heard these terms used regularly in their plural forms on
> > BET, even in voice-overs, since 1993 and from time to time on The Maury
> > Show since ca.1989.
> Wilson, you'll want to check out the recent piece on the history of
> "baby-daddy," by Slate associate editor Julia Turner.
> http://www.slate.com/id/2141083/
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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