A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 18, 2010
“Denise” and “Denephew” (New York dialect joke)

New York dialect has historically pronounced “these-them-those” and “dese-dem-dose.” A joke (cited in print to at least 1972) usually attributes this comical dialect to someone from either Brooklyn or the Bronx.


Jokes, Jokes and More Jokes
Italian Bronx Joke
Then there is the story of the Italian woman from the Bronx, eight months pregnant, who goes into a six month coma. When she finally awakes in the hospital she is informed by the nurse that while she was in her coma she delivered twins, a girl and a boy. The babies are healthy and her brother, also from the Bronx, named them. “My brother is such an idiot, what could he have named them? What is my daughter’s name?”

When the nurse answered Denise the woman thought that is quite nice and perhaps her brother wasn’t quite the idiot she feared. “And what is my son’s name?”, she inquired. The nurse answered “Denephew”.

27 April 1972, Tucson (AZ) Daily Citizen, “A shaggy Janoff tale” by Don Schellie, pg. 21, col. 2:
Just for the record, it was Tucson raconteur Ron Janoff who told the story. Let that be fair warning.

And it had to do with a young Phoneix couple, he would have us know, who had only recently moved to our fair state from Brooklyn.
(...)
Brakes squealed and then the awful impact came.

It was four days later that the young woman awakened in her hospital bed.

A nurse was at her side.

“My—my baby,” were the woman’s first words.

The nurse smiled.

“Just fine,” she said, brightly. “In fact, it’s not just A baby—it’s TWO of them. Twins. A boy and a girl!”
(...)
“What names,” she asked, “did you choose for my babies.”

“Oh, we wouldn’t want to assume that responsibility,” the nurse said. “So we went through your wallet and looked for the name of a relative.

“The only one we could find was your brother, back in Brooklyn,” she told the mother. “We asked HIM to anme the twins.”

For a moment a look of horror crossed the woman’s face. Her brother was—well, in matters of taste he left much to be desired.

“Well, tell me,” she said, raising herself upon one elbow. “What names did he give the little ones.”

The nurse smiled.

“THe little girl here,” she said, hefting the bundle to her right arm, “he named, DeNise.”

With relief, the mother smiled.

“DeNise,” she said softly. “What a pretty name my brother chose. And tell me—what name did he give the boy.”

The nurse smiled weakly, then spoke.

“DeNephew...”

18 January 1973, Salina (KS) , pg. 1, col. 5:
“I like Flip WIlson’s story about the black woman who was involved in an accident while hurrying to the hospital to give birth. WHen she regained consciousness 2 days later, she was the mother of twins.

“She was told her brother already had named the babies. ‘What did he name them?’ ‘The first one he named Denise.’ ‘That’s no bad,’ said the mother, ‘what about the other one?’ ‘He named that one De-nephew.’”

International Junk Mail Clearinghouse - September 2000
Pregnant Bronx Woman
A pregnant Bronx woman gets in a car accident and falls into a deep coma.

Asleep for nearly six months, when she wakes up she sees that she is no longer pregnant and frantically asks the doctor about her baby.

The doctor replies, “Ma’am, you had twins! A boy and a girl. The babies are fine. Your brother from The Bronx came in and named them.”

The woman thinks to herself, “Oh no, not my brother… he’s an idiot!”

Expecting the worst, she asks the doctor, “Well, what’s the girl’s name?”

“Denise,” the doctor says.

The new mother thinks, “Wow, that’s not a bad name, guess I was wrong about
my brother. I like Denise!”

Then she asks the doctor, “What’s the boy’s name?”

The doctor replies, “Denephew.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNames/Phrases • (0) Comments • Thursday, March 18, 2010 • Permalink