Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 13:56:47 EST


Subject: Re: basketball terms

Greg Pulliam writes,

Another basketball usage that comes to me is the null-possessive, as in

"Duke ball," or "Chicago ball," when the standard is "Duke's ball" or

"Chicago's ball." I've heard this from basketball announcers who are

otherwise speakers of "standard", but I'd guess that they've picked it up

from the players. It seems to be a matter of s- deletion, which is common

in AAVE.

Any thoughts on this.

I tend to doubt it. I think the same construction has been used in broad-

casting football for generations, going back to the pre-TV era: Notre Dame

ball on the Michigan 35 (or whatever). And I also suspect it was used in

basketball before the trend to a preponderance of African-American players.

In both cases, the announcers would likely not have been AAVE speakers. In

any case, I don't think it's s-deletion but something more morphosyntactic:

Chicago ball, maybe, but Bulls' ball, not Bull ball. --Larry