Muddy [Mother?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kahroba, May 6, 2014.

  1. kahroba Senior Member

    Dear friends
    Has anyone heard of "Muddy" as a nickname for "mother" like in the following context from "Manhattan Transfer" by Dos Passos?
    Time: 1910s
    Location: inside a cab in New York, while the trunks creak and thump on top. Jimmy, the small boy, is talking to her mother.
  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    I suspect that is a mispronunciation of the German word, "mutti."
    Does that seem likely?
  3. kahroba Senior Member

    Hi dear Cagey
    No, I'm afraid not because as you well know Jimmy is in fact prototype of Dos Passos himself who lived mostly in France with his mother so much that he was called "Frenchi" by his classmates when he returned to the States.
    Last edited: May 6, 2014
  4. Susan Y Senior Member

    British English
    My guess is that it is a childish way of pronouncing 'mother' - i've seen 'mudder' used to represent the way a child pronounced 'mother'.
  5. Tomdallis New Member

    Edgar Allan Poe referred to his Aunt, who also because his Mother-In-Law, Maria Clemm as "Muddy." Although fluent in several languages I suspect that Poe used "Muddy" as a pet name for Mother or one who acts as mother (much like the names "Pa" and "Ma") and derived from the German "Mutti". Both Poe's mother and foster mother had died and Maria Clemm by all accounts became a motherly substitute for him. She lived with Poe from around 1831 until Poe's death in 1849.
  6. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    I'm going to have the temerity to add desperately needed commas.

    "Muddy dear, you don't think it'll break through, do you?"
    "No, dear," she laughs, tilting her head to one side...
    "Oh, Muddy." He stands up and kisses her on the chin. "What lots of people, Muddy."
    "That's on account of the Fourth of July."
  7. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    How does that help with the question, kentix?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  8. kentix Senior Member

    English - U.S.
    For one thing, it sets apart the title/name of the person being addressed, making it clear that that is a name and a form of address.

    I don't think the intent is to describe muddy people. In Spanish. Badly translated back to English.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  9. AutumnOwl Senior Member

    There is the Allan Sherman song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh". Both Sherman and Dos Passos were born in Chicago.
  10. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Just to point out: Dos Passos' eschewed conventional punctuation, and the absence of commas and capital letters is a deliberate stylistic choice.

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