Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 8 15:49:37 UTC 2009

On Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 10:20 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> "My man," is a term of address that I first heard used in a most
> friendly manner by black GI's in Amsterdam in 1961. At the time, I was
> assed to death by this, since my only other experience with the term
> had come from British movies, wherein "my man" is used only
> condescendingly by members of the better classes to address members of
> the lower orders, subtly implying that the "man" in some sense truly
> *does* belong to the speaker, like a serf or a slave.

Not just in address, and not subtle: quite literally '(my)
servant/employee'. OED Online, man(1), DRAFT REVISION Mar. 2009.
(Quotations are just the first, the latest, and 1-2 in between.)


II. 7. a. A male personal attendant; a manservant, a valet.
?c1200 Ormulum (Burchfield transcript) l. 5199 Wiþþ himm wass an oþerr
mann Hiss mann forr himm to þeowwtenn.
1617 F. MORYSON Itinerary III. 151 A Gentleman and his Man shall spend
as much, as if he were accompanied with another Gentleman and his Man.
1925 P. G. WODEHOUSE Carry on, Jeeves! vi. 145 Biffy's man came in
with the nose-bags and we sat down to lunch.
1990 F. KANGA Trying to Grow xvi. 158, I realised that the man behind
him was his man, his personal servant.

    b. gen. A workman, an employee. Freq. in opposition to master
(MASTER n.1 2a).
1381 Rolls of Parl. III. 113/1 Johannes Pope, Taverners-man.
1426-7 in H. Littlehales Medieval Rec. London City Church (1905) 66
Also, þe same day a dawber and his man, xiiij d.
1982 R. CARR Spain 1808-1975 (1993) (BNC) 54 The failure of democratic
radicalism to develop a doctrine of class conflict was a reflection of
this situation: master and man wanted the same relief from
conscription and food taxes.


m a m

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