non-paternity event

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 22 01:35:45 UTC 2010

At 8:25 PM -0500 2/21/10, George Thompson wrote:
>"Midnight creep" wasn't a part of the idiom that
>I learned at my mother's knee.  I know it, and
>"'fore-day creep", from some old-time blues
>records, I couldn't say which ones.  I would
>interpret "midnight creep" as the act of
>sneaking into an of-limits bed, and "'fore-day
>creep" as the act of sneaking back out again.
>But that's probably my rationalization rather
>than traditional use.
>Why isn't this called a "non-connubial event"?
>Paternity does occur, after all.

And according to my dialectological sources
(although not my own childhood or parenthood
memories), the results of all this paternity
and/or non-paternity midnight creeping, at least
in the northeast, is...more creeping.  Babies on
this side of the relevant isogloss are reputed to
"creep" rather than "crawl", at midnight,
fore-day, and all times in between.


>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African
>Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but
>nothing much lately.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>Date: Sunday, February 21, 2010 2:55 pm
>Subject: Re: non-paternity event
>>  George writes:
>>  "... midnight creep ..."
>>  Is that actually missing from HDAS? _Creep_ itself is there, though
>>  missing a slightly different nuance from the one that I'm accustomed
>>  to. I.e., one creeps _away_ from one's significant other and creeps
>>  _to_ a potential new significant other or _to_ someone else's
>>  significant other. One creeps _on_ one's significant other and creeps
>>  back _in_ to one's own home after the assignation. That is, 'mongst me
>>  and my handlers, there was always a sexual nuance.
>>  You got me tossin' in my bed
>>  Talkin' in my sleep
>>  Now's the time
>>  For our _midnight creep_
>>  Good Lovin', performed by The Clovers, ca.1954 (off the top of my
>>  head), composed by the late, great Ahmet Ertegün, under his nom de
>>  boogie-joogie, "Nugetre."
>>  -Wilson
>>  On Sun, Feb 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM, George Thompson
>>  <george.thompson at> wrote:
>>  > ---------------------- Information from the
>>mail header -----------------------
>>  > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  > Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
>>  > Subject:      non-paternity event
>>  >
>>  >
>>  > In an idle moment --  which I seem to have many of -- I was looking
>>  at a recent issue of the New England Biographical and Genealogical
>>  Register, specifically at an article attempting to sort out 3 guys
>>  named Isaac Phelps, who were all running about Windsor, Conn. in the
>>  early 1700s.  A part of the research involved a DNA test, I suppose of
>>  several living men descended from the original American Phelps.
>>  Regrettably, the DNA tests were inconsistent, a fact presented with
>>  the remark that evidently "an early non-paternity event" had occurred.
>>  > This was a new term to me, but I supposed it to be a genealogist's
>>  euphemism for saying that somebody, sometime back when, had made that
>>  midnight creep while somebody else was off to market to sell his pumpkins.
>>  > It's also new to the OED.  I find that it seems to be entering
>>  academic social science writing.
>>  > Proquest show 7 occurrences beginning in 2000, the first 6 in
>>  connection with genealogical research, but the latest from something
>>  called Psychology & Psychiatry Journal, published in Atlanta, issue of
>>  March 21, 2009. pg. 108
>>  > "According to a study from Vienna, Austria, "Nonpaternity (i.e.,
>>  discrepant biological versus social fatherhood) if affects many issues
>>  of interests to psychologists, including familial dynamics,
>>  interpersonal relationships, sexuality, and fertility, and therefore
>>  represents an important topic for psychological research. The advent
>>  of modern contraceptive methods, particularly the market launch of the
>  > birth-control pill in the early 1960s and its increased use ever
>>  since, should have affected rates of nonpaternity (i.e., discrepant
>>  genetic and social fatherhood)."
>>  >  (This is an oddly garbled article.  In addition to "if affects
>>  many" in the passage quoted, there is "The eligible. database.
>>  Comprised 32 published samples")
>>  >
>>  > I was of course shocked to think that Puritans might do that sort of
>>  thing.  More to the point, some of my ancestors also roamed Windsor,
>>  Conn. in the early 1700s.  Might one of my 128
>>  great-great-great-great-great grandmothers have. . . ?   Surely not.
>>  >
>>  > GAT
>>  >
>>  > George A. Thompson
>>  > Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
>>  Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>>  >
>>  > ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  > The American Dialect Society -
>>  >
>>  --
>>  -Wilson
>>  ---
>>  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
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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