Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: May 18, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971935 | Print ISBN: 9781412966702 | Online ISBN: 9781412971935| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Dozens, Playing the
The expression the dozens refers to dramatized exchanges of insults between two opponents, most typically involving the other's mother as indirect referent, and with a variable stress on overall performance, diction, phrase rhythm, or rhyme. It is part of 20th-century African-American urban speech culture, with likely but disputable roots in African history, as well as enduring resonance in contemporary pop culture, particularly television game shows (MTV's Yo Momma , running 3 seasons in 2006–08), standup comedy (e.g., comedian-audience interactions), and Web sites. What qualifies as its historically salient properties, functions, merits, and hence, what informs its status as “game” or “play,” has been assessed variably across academic disciplines and their timeframes, ranging from 1930s–1960s social psychology of the lower-class black family and folklore to intersectional research into race/ethnicity, gender, life phases, language, and contemporary media. The Dozens (a range of etymological suggestions has been proposed) have been variably known as ...