My Favorite Hobby Leaves Me with a Question

My favorite hobby, which combines my love of Mrs. Wigglebottom with my love of feminism, is driving around ruining things for young men.  Often, Mrs. W and I get in the car, turn up the Cypress Hill en Spanglish, and cruise the streets of this city, watching the faces of the young men turn when they hear then thud of the base, see their eyes catch the bad-ass dog, and then watch their expressions turn to confusion and horror as they see me, me, Ms. Square from Squaresville in my old person car, enjoying all the things they hold as sacred markers of cool.

Oh, cruel, cruel world.

Though, truth be told, most of the kids seem to find it funny.

Anyway, so my question is not about Cypress Hill, who, in all fairness to every other rap group out there, is talented in exactly inverse proportion to their egos, which is why listening to them in a language you don’t know is so crucial.  Then, you don’t have to be aware of how stupid their lyrics are.

Which, I guess I should have warned you folks who know Spanish about before the video.

No, my question is about this song, which, if you don’t love, I’m not sure you’re ever getting invited to ride around in my car with me ruining things for young men.

In my unhipness, I have always assumed Umi was a pet name for his grandma, no reason, just that it seems like good advice a grandma would give you “Shine your light for the world to see.”  But recently I saw it called “UMI says” as if UMI is an acronym for something.

I must have one hipster reader who can clear things up.


Unless, of course, you’re not talking to me after inflicting Cypress Hill on you.

7 thoughts on “My Favorite Hobby Leaves Me with a Question

  1. Umi means mother in Arabic. (And Abi is father…you can see the similarity to Abba meaning father, but that might be a false cognate for all I know.)

  2. Bridgett, those are genuine cognates. “Umi” means “mom” or “my mother” in Arabic (just plain “mother” is “umm”); in Aramaic it would be “Amma” and in Hebrew it’s “Imma.” “Father” in those languages is “abu,” “abba,” and “av” respectively.

    I’m not aware of a single language whose word for “mother” doesn’t take the form of mm or nn (for fairly obvious reasons).

  3. I think the d, p, b combo for male family members is also pretty omnipresent.

    That’s a long way from Mos Def, so I’m going to feel free to derail. Does this song sample Al Green’s Trying to Do the Best That I Can?

  4. Japanese doesn’t use mm or nn – okasan (or haha, which I love, but which is only used to talk about your mom, not to her). Father is otosan or chichi.

  5. I find that genuinely strange. Are there other words that okasan is related to? I mean, if a mother isn’t someone you suckle on, what is she?

  6. Finnish also has a non m or n word for mother: äiti (pronounced something like “eye tea”).

    I’ve heard it said that m and n are the easiest sounds for babies learning to speak, and that’s why mama has them, but little Finnish babies don’t seem to have any trouble saying “äiti”.

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