Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 21:58:23 EDT
From: Ron Butters
Subject: "the man" in WSVE

I am familiar with the term THE MAN from working-class white (and black)
speakers in the South (particularly in Wilmington, NC), who in the early 1970s
(and probably earlier) used the phrase to indicate what I would have indicated
by THE BOSS. For example, if someone came to a job site looking for work, he
might ask, "Who is the man?"

I'm not questioning the fact that the spread of THE MAN as a recent vogue
term stems from AAVE, but I think it most likely that it originated in the
South in relationship to the general phrase BOSS MAN, rather than (as an
earlier writer suggested) specifically in AAVE as a term women used for their
husbands and bouyfriends.