Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Bae REALLY MEANS & Where It Came From, Part II

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series on the American English slang word "bae". This post provides an excerpt of a 2014 article about the word "bae" as well as comments from that article's discussion thread.

Part I provides a definition for the word "bae", and includes quotes from several online sites, as well as my thoughts about an early contributing source for that English slang word. Click for that post.

Part III of this series contains selected comments from Pharrell Williams' 2014 Pop record "Come Get It Bae"'s video discussion thread. That YouTube video is also included in that post. Click for that post.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and etymological reasons.
I'm most interested in the general topic of how the English language has changed and continues to change because of its incorporation of slang in general and African American slang, in particular.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

The English slang word "bae" (pronounced "bay") is a shortened form of the word "baby" or "babe", meaning a person's girlfriend or boyfriend, i.e. someone who is special to you. The word "bae" has recently been expanded to mean something that is special to you, something that you like alot.

ARTICLE EXCERPT "The Lamentable Death of Bae: A divisive word remembered" James Hamblin
Dec 30 2014
..."At that point [in October 2014 that the International House Of Pankakes had tweeted] "Pancakes bae <3”, the term bae had already been used by the official social-media accounts of Olive Garden, Jamba Juice, Pizza Hut, Whole Foods, Mountain Dew, AT&T, Wal-Mart, Burger King and, not surprisingly, the notoriously idiosyncratic Internet personas of Arby’s and Denny’s. Each time, the word was delivered with magnificently forceful attempt at hipness through dubious cultural appropriation... Our brains are cannily adapted to sense inauthenticity and come to hate what is force-fed. So it is with a heavy heart that we mourn this year the loss of bae, inevitable as it was. Bae was generally adored as a word in 2014, even finding itself among the runners-up for the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. (Along with normcore and slacktivism, though all would eventually suffer a disappointing loss at the hands of the uninspired vape.) Oxford’s blog loosely defined bae as a “term of endearment for one’s romantic partner” common among teenagers, with “origins in African-American English,” perpetuated widely on social media and in music, particularly hip-hop and R&B. The lyrical database Rap Genius actually traces bae back as far as 2005. But after nearly a decade of subcultural percolation, 2014 was the year that bae went fully mainstream. It was in July, after the release of Miley Cyrus and Pharrell’s nonsensical collaboration “Come Get It, Bae” that Esquire asked with measured incredulity, “What the Hell Is Up With ‘Bae’?” Writer Natasha Zarinsky there proclaimed “the dawn of ‘bae.’” Of course, any time dawn is breaking, so is dusk. Slang tends to go one of two ways as it gets picked up by masses, linguist Tyler Schnoebelen told Time in the publication’s bae investigation that same month: A term either calcifies, or it bleaches. Calcification would mean bae, in its current form, becomes solidly part of the lexicon. Bleaching would mean that bae persists as a grammatical entity but loses its intention, the force of its meaning appreciably diminished through generalization. That seems to have begun, like when people use an adjectival bae to generally express affection for anything. As in, when eating a particularly good scone, “This scone is bae.”... In the case of bae, Urban Dictionary entries date back years and have been very widely read. One user on the site defined it as “baby, boo, sweetie” in December of 2008, pegging its usage to Western Florida. Even before that, in August of 2006, a user defined it as “a lover or significant other”—though in the ensuing years that definition has garnered equal shares of up-votes and down-votes, with an impressive 11,000 of each. It’s impossible to parse how many of those readers disagree with the particulars of the definition, and how many are simply expressing distaste for the word. Video blogger William Haynes, who would be among the down-votes, made an adamant case in his popular YouTube series in August that “unknown to the general populace, bae is actually an acronym.” So it would technically be BAE. And according to Haynes, it means Before Anyone Else. That theory has mild support on Urban Dictionary, though it first appeared long after the initial definitions. Katy Steinmetz in Time aptly mentioned another, more likely origin story earlier this year—one that also accounts for the uncommon a-e pairing—that bae is simply a shortened version of babe (or baby, or beau). “Slangsters do love to embrace the dropped-letter versions of words,” she wrote, noting that in some circles cool has become coo, crazy cray, et cetera"... -snip- That article continues with a summary of Neil Whitman's article that is quoted above and other comments about the corporate use of slang to sell products. Here are a few comments from that article's discussion thread: [All of these comments are from January 2015] James "Great fun! The intercultural attempt to use slang is always a dicey strategem, because one main usage of slang as a tool is to separate the in-group from the outs. In this it's similar to the usage of technical jargon by professionals in law or medicine to condescend to clients and patients, keeping them in their place. The appropriation of slang by the mainstream destoys its usefulness, just as rock and roll destroyed blues as a tool used by black people to voice their experience to each other, and made way for funk and, later, hip hop, both of which, when new, were largely unintelligible to the mainstream (white) audience." ** Ici Radio Canada "I am officially adopting as my motto "The intercultural attempt to use slang is always a dicey strategem." Done. Just hover the mouse pointer over my avatar and ye shall see." ** James > Ici Radio Canada
"I'm honored and glad to be of service."

Pamela Ivins Dobuler > James
"Well, it is a great sentence.

Christine Laing, January 2015
"Bae is a weird case. The hatred of bae seems to have been with it since the beginning. Bae-bashed are all over Twitter. It's one of those hipster things where the real hipsters are making fun. The inappropriate use of "bae" by advertisers who think it "enhances a social media brand" isn't helping much. The irony of having Pizza Hut call someone a word that means "lover" on a medium used to mock the word is too delicious.

Meme: When some gross Pizza tries to call me bae!"

Ici Radio Canada
"Bae is bleaching only if one says "this scone is bae" where scone rhymes with cone.

Otherwise, bae is calcifying."

"Oh dear Lord Jesus, people having been saying "bae" in the South forever. Let me die with the Philistines."

"I had no idea Bae was a thing, was still getting over Boo. Is Boo all done now?"...
My response to SerenaJoy to her question "Is Boo all done now?" is no, based on the use of the word "boo" in the 2014 and 2015 comments posted in to the discussion thread of Usher & Alicia Key's 2004 R&B song "My Boo". However, a number of those comments were that if that song was released now it would be titled "My Bae" instead of "My Boo".

Also, a comment posted to Pharrell's record "Come Get It Bae" one week ago [in April 2015] includes the referent "boo" (there meaning someone who you are friendly with)
Jen Sworthout
"'re a GENIOUS!!!! THANK U for your creativity boo!!!"

This concludes Part II of this series.

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