Date: Fri, 28 Jul 1995 14:55:25 -0400 From: "M. Lynne Murphy" <104LYN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA> Subject: Re: Your Momma -- Sexual Connotation? > I'm from Los Angeles. I've never noticed any offences by questions > about parents. But then, I don't ever remember anyone asking about > them unless they already personally knew them. On the other hand, > I've seen fights break out in response to the words, "Your Momma!" > > I'm not sure, but these words may have a sexual connotation. > One person insults another. > The second responds, "F___ You!" > The first says, "Your Mother!" > > Is this a California thing? I've lived in Utah for six years and > haven't heard it here once. > > --Tom it's a world-wide thing--usu. reference to knowledge of someone's mother implicates that the insulter has had sex with the other's mother. two examples i can think of offhand: in beng (a west african language) one insult is "your mother has a pendulous rectum." in japanese, it's "your mother's belly button is an outie." just saying "your mother" derives from such things, though most modern users might not realize it. the japanese example, i'm told, is widely used by kids who don't understand the implication. less transparent (to me) is the beng insult "your mother's liver." ed gregersen at queens college is doing a cross-cultural study of insults. he believes that you can do an implicational hierarchy of insult types. e.g., if a language has mother insults, it has coprophagic insults (i made that one up, but you get the idea). lynne --------------------------------------------------------------------- M. Lynne Murphy 104lyn[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] Department of Linguistics phone: 27(11)716-2340 University of the Witwatersrand fax: 27(11)716-8030 Johannesburg 2050 SOUTH AFRICA