"Play-money" and "play-[sibling]"

Margaret Lee mlee303 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Dec 18 10:47:59 UTC 2012

In The Story of English video, "Black on White" (1986) narrator Robert McNeil, in discussing the impact of black slave language on white Southern language, refers to "play children." These were  young black slave children who were given to the white slave masters' children as playmates or companions.  
I am quite familiar with "play brother/sister/cousin"  still used among blacks.  
--Margaret Lee 

 From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 12:37 AM
Subject: "Play-money" and "play-[sibling]"
Is anyone else familiar with the custom of referring to a close
childhood friend as a "play-brother, -sister, -mother, -father,"
wherein _play_ entails both "play (with)" and "pretend," as in
"play-money"? A play-sibling can be an actual, extended-family
sibling, such as a more-or-less-distant cousin.

This use is pretty much universal and old - my grandparents, born in
the 19th C., often spoke of some random [Name] as a play-sibling -
among blacks. Is it a general Southern thing or only one of those
you-wouldn't-understand black things?

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 - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list