Pronoun [was Finally!]

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Sep 27 14:38:27 UTC 2007

Re Creoles: I agree.  I look forward to some elucidation of this. It may imply that the English practice underlies them (except coincidently), which would suggest that the bluff-talking sailors and traders of an earlier age used the forms then as often as we'd expect them to  now.

  But to quote Wilson quoting Waller, "One never knows, do one?"

  (Fats, I think: not Edmund.)


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
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Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: Pronoun [was Finally!]

At 9:01 AM -0400 9/27/07, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On 9/26/07, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> At 6:04 PM -0700 9/26/07, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>> >Am disappointed to see that the authors of that article did not find
>> >the historical perspective in HDAS of any use or interest.
>> ...and a very rich entry, or set of entries, it is. I was just
>> thinking of "Don't let your mouth write a check your ass can't cash",
>> and that's in there with a couple of hits, under the 'ability and
>> determination' entry. Wilson's friend's greeting ("How's your ass?")
>> makes an appearance too, from 1960 ("usu. considered vulgar"--like
>> virtually every other entry for _ass_, curiously enough!).
>HDAS also has excellent coverage of a related usage, "(one's) balls":
>ball, n.
>6. pl. [cf. identical use of ASS] one's body, person, or self --
>sometimes functions as an intensifier of pronouns; one's life or
>wel-being, "hide," "skin," "neck," -- usu. considred vulgar. [Used
>only by men.]
>In some parts of the country, at least, "How's your balls?" or "How's
>your nuts?" would be the equivalent of the "How's your ass?" greeting
>Wilson mentioned. But I gather that "X's balls/nuts" isn't nearly as
>pronominally flexible as "X's ass".
Right, even controlling for the role of sex of referent. I don't
think "Get your balls some help" would be construed as a suggestion
to seek out a therapist--at least not a psychotherapist.

The metonymic use of "X's ass" and similar body parts in Creole
languages, as mentioned by dInIs, does appear to be relevant to the
English construction.


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