Sunday, November 4, 2007
Dresbach meets Derrida: the deconstruction of "Gibita Me!"
The Reverend Michael Dresbach, known to the denizens of the Internet as Padre Mickey, often writes about Evelyn Mobley, whom the Padre calls Miss Bebé, the World's Most Beautiful Granchile™, pictured here with her father Chris Mobley. The Rev. Dresbach notes the inquisitive and acquisitive nature of childhood with the colloquially spelled phrase "Gibita Me!", which in standard spelling is the command "Give it to me!" While not as well known as its cognates "Gimme!" and "Gimme dat!", "Gibita Me!" deserves wider recognition as the true infantile version of the command, which the Rev. Dresbach heard clearly, likely due to his decades of musical training.
"Gimme!" is clearly the first of the three cognates and the most primitive. It has no object, and the person giving the command is entirely to blame if he or she is given something other than the true object of desire. "Gimme dat!" solves this problem, but it is more the call of the adolescent bully. There is an implied "or else!" at the end "Gimme dat!", and the toddler has no effective recourse to violence.
The small child has only language to convince the world of her right of ownership. Many child development experts believe the child at birth does not truly understand the separate nature of herself and the rest of the world, and only comes to this realization slowly. Soon enough, the world is seen as Me, the most important part, Others, the mobile parts who are at the beck and call of Me, and Stuff, the inanimate things which naturally belong to Me. And of course, "Gibita Me!" is the primal command to let the vassal Other know that the Stuff they currently hold is of vital interest to Me, the most important part of the universe.
The Rev. Dresbach's musicality was invaluable in him hearing the true sound, and his understanding of performance lead him to the correct colloquial spelling. The sound of the sentence is a triplet "gibita" followed by a separate whole beat "me". The triplet is a powerful tool in music. Sir Arthur Sullivan often mixed in triplets with regular beats to give his music a lilting feeling, but used exclusively, the triplet has the feeling of a galloping beat. Stephen Sondheim used the triplet to this effect in the rhythm of the string section in The Ballad of Sweeney Todd to give the sense of an inevitable and quickly approaching doom. No doom is implied in "Gibita Me!", but inevitability is certain. You will give the thing to the child because there is no other option in the child's mind.
After the triplet comes the "me". Unlike "Gimme dat!", "Gibita Me!" puts the word me in the important final position, all alone. As people grow older, they come to think of the first word in the sentence as the important one, but performers know how important it is to be last. The headliner of a musical revue may have their name at the top of the bill, but they will be the last act, the one that will stick in the minds of the audience because it is the most recent.
All these colloquially spelled cognates recognized the difficulty involved in children pronouncing the sound vee. It requires the upper teeth on the lower lip, more difficult for juveniles than mmm or bee, which just require the two lips to purse together. Babies regardless of native tongue are always practicing the mmm and bee sounds. Moreover, the ooo sound required in "Gibitoo Me!" is more difficult to say than "Gibita me!", and takes attention away from the important word, Me.
Let me conclude with a recommendation to my readers to spread the use of this new infantile cognate to "Gimme dat!" Google now shows Padre Mickey's Dance Party as the best source for all your "Gibita Me!" needs, a position Lotsa 'Splainin' has no desire to usurp, but it should be just the wellspring of the deserved worldwide usage as the proper spelling of the infantile form of the English command "Give it to me!"
Is that the Pulitzer Prize for literary criticism, blog division?