[Lingtyp] addressing the daughter as Mummy

Michael Daniel misha.daniel at gmail.com
Mon Aug 24 07:54:38 UTC 2020

Hi everybody.

I reported this as a reaction to the original request in a personal email,
but now that there is so much wonderful data and reactions I might ask in
the list:

does anyone know of a pattern of address, formally both related and
different to the one being discussed, where the apparently 'inverse use' of
the term of address is placed inside a possessive construction, literally
'mother-Poss/Gen' addressing a child, 'aunt-Poss/Gen' to a nephew or niece
etc. This occurs in (some parts of) Daghestan and I always wondered whether
it was an adaptation / reinterpretation of the Near East / Georgian / etc
pattern or an independent development.

Michael Daniel

пн, 24 авг. 2020 г. в 07:07, David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de>:

> As a footnote to Eitan's comments on Hebrew, I would add that the form
> *mama-le*, with the Yiddish-origin diminutive, is used not only by
> mothers addressing their children, but by extension also as an affectionate
> address term to persons of any gender, age and parental status (as I myself
> can attest to, as the occasional fortunate addressee).
> On 20/08/2020 08:22, Eitan Grossman wrote:
> Hi all,
> Modern Hebrew also has this phenomenon, e.g., *mami* or *mama* ('mom')
> and *abuya* ('my father'). Its sources seem to be both Maghrebi
> Judeo-Arabic and Palestinian Arabic, but it also makes sense that it might
> also come from Kurdish via Neo-Aramaic. Interestingly, a common term is*
> aba-le* (father-DIM), which takes a Yiddish-origin diminutive suffix on
> an Aramaic-origin noun, while the very use of the 'father' term for a child
> is patterned on Arabic.
> In Beduin Arabic of the Negev, these reversed kin terms are extremely
> extensive and seem to apply to pretty much any kin relationship. Henkin has
> written about this a lot, e.g., Ch 10 of her 2010. Negev Arabic:
> Dialectal, Sociolinguistic, and Stylistic Variation. Wiesbaden: Otto
> Harrassowitz. It's also worth checking out her work on cursing, which can
> involve what looks like 'self-cursing' due to the kinship term reversal.
> Eitan
> Eitan Grossman
> Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics
> Chair, Department of Linguistics
> Hebrew University of Jerusalem
> Tel: +972 2 588 3809
> Fax: +972 2 588 1224
> On Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 7:27 AM Nino Amiridze <nino.amiridze at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> Dear Sergey,
>> Georgian (Kartvelian) has the phenomenon. Young people may get addressed
>> by their older relatives by the term that refers to the relatives
>> themselves. For instance, if a grandmother addresses her grandson (say,
>> Giorgi), she may address him by uttering (a) or (b):
>> (a) giorgi, modi chemtan!
>> Giorgi, come to.me
>> " Giorgi, come to me!"
>> or
>> (b) bebia/bebiko, modi chemtan!
>> grandmother/granny, come to me
>> Lit.: grandmother, come to me!
>> "Giorgi, come to me!"
>> This phenomenon is discussed in Boeder 1988 (
>> http://www.staff.uni-oldenburg.de/winfried.boeder/download/52_Boeder_1988_Ueber_einige_Anredeformen_imKaukasus.pdf),
>> where he mentions similar cases in Lebanese Arabic described in Ayoub 1964
>> and Southern Italian dialects by Spitzer 1928. In both cases, the
>> phenomenon is known from baby talk, when grown ups try to lower themselves
>> to the level of children. As a result, a role substitution happens. Boeder
>> brings Willis 1977 as a reference, according to which the role substitution
>> is an important play when children and grown ups communicate in English
>> baby talk.
>> For me, as a native Georgian speaker, the explanation does not exactly
>> make sense for Georgian. Rather, the address forms have always been a
>> shortened forms of affectionate formulas:
>> bebia [genacvalos / shemogevlos], modi chemtan!
>> grandmother [will.secrifice.herself.for.you], come to me
>> '"X, come to me" (where X is a name of a grandkid)
>> I wonder what other native speakers have to say about the role
>> substitution in Georgian. And I would be curious to learn whether the
>> mentioned languages or others illustrating the phenomenon can have the
>> 'role mirroring' due to shortening of blessing formulas.
>> References:
>> Ayoub, Millicent R. 1964. Bi-polarity in Arabic kinship terms. In Horace
>> G. Lunt (ed.). Proceedings of the Ninth International Congress of
>> Linguists. The Hague: Mouton, pp. 1100-1106.
>> Boeder, Winfried, 1988. Über einige Anredeformen im Kaukasus. Georgika,
>> Heft 11, pp. 11-20.
>> Spitzer, Leo, 1928. Über Personenvertauschung in der Ammensprache. In L.
>> Spitzer, Stilstudien. Hueber, München, 1928, pp. 26-38.
>> Wills, Dorothy Davis, 1977. Participant deixis in English baby talk. In:
>> C.E. Snow and Ch. A. Ferguson (eds.), Talking to Children. Language Input
>> and Acquisition. Papers from a conference sponsored by the Committee on
>> Sociolinguistics of the Social Science Research Council (USA). Cambridge,
>> Cambridge University Press, pp. 271-295.
>> Best regards,
>> Nino
>> On Sat, Aug 15, 2020 at 9:26 PM Sergey Loesov <sergeloesov at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> 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
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Lingtyp mailing list
>>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
>> --
>> Dr. Nino Amiridze
>> E-mail: Nino.Amiridze at gmail.com
>> WWW: https://sites.google.com/site/ninoamiridze/
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> --
> David Gil
> Senior Scientist (Associate)
> Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
> Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
> Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
> Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
> Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-556825895
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