Every day, I read the Tirdad Derakhshani’s “SideShow” gossip column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I would call it a “guilty pleasure,” except that I don’t really enjoy it all that much. But anyway.
I have noticed that, probably because of the banality and repetitiveness of his material, Derakhshani makes a (visible) effort to use unorthodox lingo. Sometimes the lingo consists of Britishisms, and that is the case today, when he writes about Britney Spears: “her finances are still under the control of her da, James Parnell Spears.”
If I’m not mistaken, da is actually (unlike mum, which by the way I just heard Tom Magliozzi use on the radio show “Car Talk”–is it a Boston thing?) not a Britishism but an Irish diminutive for “father.” I first became aware of it when reading about and then seeing Hugh Leonard’s excellent play of that name, in a 1978 Broadway production starring Barnard Hughes.
Surprisingly, the OED doesn’t mention this, even though its only two twentieth-century citations are from Irishman: James Joyce (“Waiting outside pubs to bring da home.”–Ulysses) and C. Day-Lewis, writing under his pen name “Nicholas Blake” (“Miss Judith grew up to be..the apple of her da’s eye”).
The New York Times recognized the Irishness of the term just last week, in an article about an Olympic boxing gold medalist: “As the years passed, and as [Katie]Taylor became well known, Ireland grew evermore fond of her: a nice girl without any airs, coached by her Da.”
In any case, it’s clear to me that Derakhshani pretty much all alone in the American use of da, and in fact that inspires me to start a new category: Outliers. I will be retroactively adding stroke, zed and a bunch of other one-offs.