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Mimis

verb; clipping
To take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension of consciousness; cease being awake. Since the term "mimis" is predominantly used within the Hispanic culture, it is most likely derived from the Spanish language. Through baby talk, dormir underwent a form of clipping and reduplication. In dormir, "mi" is the stressed syllable and the difficult d and r sounds are removed. Babies seize the stressed syllable of the input, dormir, and then repeat it to make a word, which results in ‘mimis’. Children employ a wide variety of language simplifications in learning to speak, resulting in more well known baby-words like "na-na" for "grandmother.” With my own native culture, one observation I made was that ‘mimis’ is not restrictive to only Spanish-speaking households. In contrast, it is just as common in homes where Spanish is a second language or one in which a form of Spanglish is predominantly spoken. In my home, for example, Spanish was a second language, yet the term ‘mimis’ was well enrooted within my early language. However, my friend Frank was raised learning Spanish as his first language and was well aware of the word "mimis.” One thing I did notice was that those who did not learn Spanish as a first language are less apt to associate mimis with dormir, versus those who speak Spanish fluently as a first language who are more likely to make such an association. What is interesting is that those who speak English, even non-native speakers, would not feel a need to search the origins of other sleepy time words such as beddy-bye, nighty-night, nite-nite, or sleepy-time, because they are seemingly obvious. Lastly I’d like to mention the word ‘mimis’ in its various contexts. In general it is used as a verb meaning to sleep, as in “I am going mimis, because it is so late.” However, I have heard it used without an ‘s’ in the same context or as a noun in “It is time for mimi.” It is intermixed and blended with English words, when Spanglish is spoken in the household. For example my mother would always tell me such phrases as “Go mimis!” or “It is mimi-time.” The ‘s’ used often in ‘mimis’ is commonly found when spoken in households where English is most dominantly spoken. This is probably because it is associated and used with other baby-talk such as sleepy-byes, beddy-byes, and sleepys.
 
Mama, I’m ready to get into bed and go mimis.
Etymology : Spanish dormir to sleep < L dormi(re) to sleep
Source : My mother and grandmother during childhood
Last modified: 10 June 2008


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