LINGUIST List 3.966

Thu 10 Dec 1992

Disc: Wannabe

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. , Wannabes
  2. , Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe
  3. , RE: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,
  4. benji wald, Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,
  5. "Vern M. Lindblad", Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, ...

Message 1: Wannabes

Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1992 12:44 CSTWannabes
From: <ACC_DTWVALPO.bitnet>
Subject: Wannabes

As a current user of "wannabe" I wanted to say that wannabe comes
from "X wants to be {like} Y" as in "susan is a madonna wannabe"
which means "susan wants to be {like} madonna." I would never say
"wantsabe" as a past tense, I would use "X was a Y wannabe."
I just thought I'd try and help. By the way I learned this usage in
the NW Washington DC suburbs, if anyone decides to do some kind of
geographical variation study.

 Dan Williamson
internet: acc_dtwexodus.valpo.edu
bitnet: acc_dtwvalpo
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Message 2: Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe

Date: Tue, 8 Dec 92 21:09:33 -08Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe
From: <suzannegarnet.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe

In response to Larry Horn's query about WANNABE, I've often heard it used,
in speech and now in (journalistic) writing, as a prenominal adjective,
as in :

 he's a wannabe novelist

Assuming the term evolved from any grammatical person other than 3sg, the
form WANNABE is fine (e.g., I/you/they wannabe an X).

Suzanne Fleischman
(Dept. of French
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720
suzannegarnet.berkeley.edu)
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Message 3: RE: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,

Date: Tue, 08 Dec 1992 17:33:22 RE: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,
From: <frantznhg.uleth.ca>
Subject: RE: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,

In reply to Larry Horn on "wannabe", I always assumed it was a humorous use
of the frame "wanna be [like] ____" as a substantive. This of course explains
why there is no *wantsabe, because "wanna" is from <want to>; if there were a
third sg. counterpart it would be "wantstabe", where the second <a> is a schwa.
I find this latter form completely transparent in the frame "He is a Chomsky
wantstabe.", though I'm pretty sure I've never heard such!. But the reclass-
ification of "wannabe" as a single lexical item eliminates the need for inflect-
ion to agree with its logical subject; i.e. it need not be recognized as
inflected internally. Does this make sense?
 Don Frantz
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Message 4: Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,

Date: Wed, 09 Dec 92 18:31 PST
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, Case Quarter, Old English,

Wannabe. I'm not in any privileged position to know about wannabes, but at
least out of appreciation for the ... NOT correspondence, I'll give my
thoughts about "wannabe". To begin with, at least since the 70s in LA,
"wannabe" could be a modifier (in LA), as in "he's a wannabe actor", which
of course means "he's a waiter who's really waiting to be an actor" maybe, but
not necessarily implying: he's not so bad, but I don't think he has a
a chance in this town". The expression
"wannabe" soon took a turn toward contempt among teenagers (at
least) for different social groups "s/he's a wanna-be greaser/sosh/hippy/
punk/new waver/etc etc" That means s/he wears the clothes/talks the talk/
walks the walk/ or whatever, but is not accepted by the "real thing".
 For short, in some contexts "wannabe" was sufficient,
without the "wannabe X". Therefore, the NP analysis works. The shift to
head seems to follow standard referential practices, but the conditions you
give have to do with a personal name vs. modifier with a common noun type.
I don't know enough about the phenomenon to be sure that there are not
speakers/areas where "a wannabe Chomsky/Madonna" is(not?) an acceptable
construction -- it doesn't really sound bad to me, although making "wannabe"
the head seems to emphasize the contempt in the expression. Benji
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Message 5: Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, ...

Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1992 01:20:52 Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, ...
From: "Vern M. Lindblad" <vernmlu.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.964 Queries: Wannabe, ...

In Linguist List 3.964, Larry Horn (LHORNYALEVM.BITNET) discusses some
peculiarities of the term 'wannabe', and states:

> "I would also speculate that the singular is back-formed from the plural,
> given the morphology (*a Chomsky wantsabe)."

I think that he is correct to draw the conclusion that the absence of the
-s- means that this can't be derived from the 3rd sing. form, but wrong in
his speculation that the plural is its source. I have an intuition that
the true source is actually the 1st sing. form, and envisage a
prototypical scenario of the following sort:

Setting: X and Y just attended a rock concert by Z, and now are walking
down the sidewalk.

X says: "I wanna be Z."
X then strikes a pose typical of Z, and starts playing air-guitar.
W approaches, and looks quizically at X.
Y explains to W, "He's a Z-wannabe."

This puts the absolute minimum possible load on Y's lexicon, since all Y
adds is "He's a ..." and the format.

Does anyone else out there share my intuitions about this?

Vern M. Lindblad
vernmlu.washington.edu
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