LINGUIST List 5.458

Wed 20 Apr 1994

Disc: Bubba

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  1. Loren Allen Billings, The E. European "bubba"
  2. Shana Walton, genTEEL, not genTILE
  3. Fran Karttunen, Re: 5.442 Accents

Message 1: The E. European "bubba"

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 94 19:46:40 EDThe E. European "bubba"
From: Loren Allen Billings <BILLINGSPUCC.bitnet>
Subject: The E. European "bubba"

Dorine Houston ( writes in a recent LINGUIST posting
that "bubba" always meant a Jewish grandmother in her "Fluffyan" (i.e.
Philadelphian) variety of English.

I believe Dorine might be confusing the nickname "Bubba", a very common
one in parts of the South with no apparent stigma, as one Texan Bubba I
met reports--with some form like _BA.ba_, a presumably Yiddish term with
Slavic origins, meaning anything from 'woman' to 'female bumpkin' (the
latter being the Russian conotation of _BA.ba_). Although I do not know
Yiddish, I am aware of forms like 'mom', presumably also from
some some Slavic language (cf. the Russian _ma.MU.l'a_ 'mommy' (apostrophe
marks palatalization; the stressed syllable is capitalized for clarity of
comparison; also, periods mark syllable breaks as I understand them).
Diminutive forms of the root /bab-/, as in Ru _ba.BU.l'a_ 'granny, old-woman'
and _BA.bush.ka_ 'grandmother' (the latter, incidentally borrowed into the
English, with penultimate (Polish?) stress to mean the scarf that women from
E. Europe wear and the dance on the Addams Family film!).
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Message 2: genTEEL, not genTILE

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 08:24:55 genTEEL, not genTILE
From: Shana Walton <>
Subject: genTEEL, not genTILE

OK, OK, I can't spell. I meant *genteel* Southern accent, not *Gentile*
Southern accent. Certainly, there are a lot of Gentiles in the South, and
in answer to another poster, there are large Jewish communities in the
South. But my reference was to a well-known stereotype of a Southern

I did *not* mean to launch the discussion into one about Jewish
accents ... but since we already did .... This whole thing about
conscious accent exaggeration ( of course for humor, also for marking
group membership), I've had Jewish friends from New York who seemed to do
this. What do y'all think?

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Message 3: Re: 5.442 Accents

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 1994 09:19:59 Re: 5.442 Accents
From: Fran Karttunen <>
Subject: Re: 5.442 Accents

Someone has suggested that I have implied that our Central Texas
bubbas are likely poorly educated. Au contraire. We have bubbas in
the legislature, bubbas on the faculty, bubbas in college and
university education. Off course we also have rugged individualist
bubbas who eschew formal education. I would say there is a strong
streak of anti-intellectualism that runs through here and shows up in
the legislature and even, paradoxically, in education management.
But don't read into the Central Texas concept of bubba-hood that which
is not there.

Fran Karttunen
Austin, TX
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