Date: Thu, 2 Mar 1995 09:54:31 CST
From: Mike Picone MPICONE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UA1VM.UA.EDU
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.
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
University of Alabama