Heard on The Judges: " -nim" in possessive

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 29 19:42:39 UTC 2009

At 2:33 PM -0500 1/29/09, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Larry, if you catch an AA speaker saying [nEm] instead of [nIm], kill
>him, for he is a traitor to his dialect, a disgrace to his race. :-)

But I think either AA or EA speakers might use a schwa, [I], or
barred-I in the final syllable and it could still be transcribed as
mom(m)anem or mam(m)anem rather than as -nim, given the psychological
link to "(th)em".  I suspect EA Pittsburghers would not, however,
refer to "yo mamanem house", with any spelling.


>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Mark Twain
>On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 10:20 AM, Laurence Horn
><laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>  Subject:      Re: Heard on The Judges: " -nim" in possessive
>>  At 9:30 AM -0500 1/29/09, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>>Judge Penny (late-forty-ish black woman from Atlanta):
>>>"How you gon' have five girlfriends and be so broke that you still
>>>livin' in _yo' mama-nim house_?!"
>>>I've never heard it expressed this way, before. I would have expected:
>>>"... still livin' in the house _wit' cho' mama-nim_?!"
>>  also rendered (for varieties of EA (and AA?) speakers in Pittsburgh
>>  and environs as well as southerners of all ethnicities) as "mamanem"
>>  and "mommanem", which are slightly more transparent (< 'n' (th)'em)
>>  LH
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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