[Ads-l] hip/hep and happenin

Z Rice zrice3714 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 13 02:41:05 UTC 2016

Births take place every day in a maternity ward, but that doesn't make a
maternity ward a "happenin place". Mr. Cohen's definition of "happenin" in
AAV is incorrect, or rather it is quite simplistic. Because something
"happens" at a place, that does not make the place "happenin" in AAV.

Mr. Landau, I would suggest that an ideal place to start in your search for
the etymology - and for that matter, the proper meaning of the term - is
with the African-American population.

The term "happenin" in AAV means stylish, trendy, hip, fashionable, en
vogue, the latest, etc.

It does not mean simply "a place where things are happenin". (??) Also,
shoes can be happenin in AAV - "happenin shoes". A suit can be "happenin"
in AAV - a "happenin suit". A person can be happenin - "happenin cat".

That does not mean that "things are happenin" inside of the suit, shoes, or
person (cat).

I'm assuming that you already saw my post or study involving the terms
hep/hip and happenin (?) and perhaps that was what prompted you to ask?
But, if not, I  am posting it below for your convenience:

hep / hip (adj)
fashionable, en vogue, up-to-date in fashion, style, or events; the latest
in fashion or style; the latest thing; what is currently happening (in
events, style, and culture); happening

...comes from:

xew (verbal adjective)
1) (to be) fashionable; (to be) en vogue; (to be) up-to-date in fashion or
style; (to be) the latest in fashion or style; (to be) the latest thing;
(to be) trendy; (to be) what's happening

xew (verb)
2) to happen (when speaking of events); 3) to occur (when speaking of

The Wolof "x" or voiceless back velar fricative simply mutated among
African-Americans to "h", while the Wolof "w" or voiced labio-velar
semi-vowel simply mutated to "p" - a mutation that is extremely common
throughout Africa. Unlike English speakers, the Wolof fully pronounce that
word-final "w". Following are several examples from the Basaa and Bankon
languages of Cameroon - whose speakers inform me that both of their
languages are related. I am listing them here to demonstrate that "w" to
"p" is a common mutation in African languages:

ndaw - Bankon meaning "house"
ndap - Basaa meaning "house"

malew - Bankon meaning "water"
malep - Basaa meaning "water"

kow - Bankon meaning "chicken"
kop - Basaa meaning "chicken"

This is what gives us AAV phrases like "a happenin suit"; or "happenin
shoes" which wouldn't make sense otherwise in the english language, but
make complete sense in AAV and definitely in Wolof.

Kind regards,


On Sun, Mar 13, 2016 at 12:16 AM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu>

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Cohen, Gerald Leonard" <gcohen at MST.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: hip/hep and happenin
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A happenin place is a place where things are happenin.  I'm not sure why
> it=
> 's necessary
> to look further for the etymology.
> Gerald Cohen
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> ----
> Jim Landau wrote (Saturday, March 12, 2016 2:51 PM:
> Is there any etymological connection between "hip" or "hep" and the AAVE
> us=
> age of "happenin"?  Or is this a coincidence of words that happen to sound
> =
> alike?
> - Jim Landau=
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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