[Lingtyp] addressing the daughter as Mummy

Oleg Belyaev belyaev at ossetic-studies.org
Thu Aug 20 19:27:56 UTC 2020

Dear Sergey,

Dargwa languages (and probably some other Daghestanian languages) have a 
similar phenomenon, but with a nuance: the self-reference is in the 
genitive, thus the address is "mother's" (probably implying "mother's 
beloved" or something similar) rather than "mother". This works with all 
kinds of kinship terms and even wider (e.g. an older non-relative is 
typically referred to as uncle/aunt, and consequently, s/he may address 
the kid as "uncle's"/"aunt's").

As a pure speculation (I haven't looked at the literature on the topic), 
such constructions might be the origin of at least some of these types 
of inversion.



12.08.2020 22:34, Sergey Loesov пишет:
> Dear colleagues,
> In various cultures (those I know of happen to be mostly Islamic) the 
> form of address can be copied by the addressee. Thus, when a daughter 
> addresses her mother as “Mummy”, the mother often reciprocates, saying 
> to the daughter something like “yes, Mummy”, or “what, Mummy…” (Same 
> of course with a son and his father.)
> In particular, I came across this kind of exchange in my fieldwork 
> with Kurdish (Kurmanji) and some contemporary Aramaic varieties in 
> Upper Mesopotamia and Syria, but this phenomenon is also current in 
> the Soqotri language, an unwritten Semitic language spoken on the 
> Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean, southeast of Yemen.
> Are we aware of explanations for this kind of usage? Are there 
> cross-language studies of this kind of facts?
> Thank you very much!
> Sergey
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