Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 09:54:31 CST


Subject: Fr. Tit-, Baby (cf. Little, Jr., II)

Jacques Villeneuve, whose father, Gilles Villeneuve, was a famous driver (who

died racing), and whose uncle, Jacques Villeneuve, was a slightly less famous

one (who didn't die racing...yet) and still races occasionally. Yet both are

simply known as Jacques Villeneuve--no II or anything else!


The French equivalents of "Sr." and "Jr." are "pere" (father) and "fils"

(son), and the numbering scheme seems to be fairly rare outside of royalty.

Bruce Gelder

Elsewhere, this kind of thing is current. In Louisiana,

the dimunitive (always in its reduced formed, petit tit) is often

affixed to a name, as in Tit Maurice. This can even happen if a someone's

given name is English (as is very often the case): Tit Don, Tit Johnnie

(the latter appears in the song "Pauv' tit Johnnie peut pas danser").

In written form, spellings very: tit, ti, 'ti, T-. This is generally reserved

for use with boys' names to distinguish son from father or in a nickname

(fittingly referred to in Cajun French as "des tits noms"), but Cheramie

& Gill (1992) report one use with a female nickname: 'ti Cherie. This is

one of the lexical items that has been retained in Cajun English. For

more, see Cheramie & Gill "Lexical Choice in Cajun Vernacular

Enlgish" in _Cajun Vernacular English_, ed. by Ann Martin Scott, 1992.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that this usage has its roots in

some French regionalism.

In Haiti, a couplet of terms exist made famous by their notorious bearers

Papa Doc (Duvalier) and Baby Doc, father and son respectively. In France,

the former is always referred to as Papa Doc and the latter Baby Doc, with

totally assimilated pronunciation. The borrowing _baby_ appears as a

diminutive elsewhere in French: le baby-foot `foosball' (that is, table

soccer; I can't find _foosball_ in the dictionary I have at hand at the

moment, but that is how we always referred to it in English when I was

growing up).

Mike Picone

University of Alabama