EnglishShow more Special use of English late recently deceased (always used attributively of a particular person, e.g. ‘the late Mr Smith’, ‘my late father’).
Among speakers of Sintu (Bantu) languages, used frequently in non-standard ways, especially predicatively, as a euphemism for ‘deceased’, ‘dead’. Also absolutely, ‘the departed (person)’.
1959K.M.C. Motsisi inM. MutloatseCasey & Co. (1978) 27Kid Playboy is making a hurried exit.., and the bride tearing at her..dress and hurling all sorts of names at Kid Playboy and his family including the late ones.
1979Pace Sept. 28His father is late,..his mother..is his only guardian.
1982StaffriderVol.4No.4, 37My father was John Piliso and my mother’s name was Emily. Both are late.
1982StaffriderVol.4No.4, 38The band comprised two altos, tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, second trumpet, drums, and string bass. Trombonist was Dingane — he’s late.
1983A. NyathikaziInformant, KwaZulu-NatalI don’t remember whether I told you that Mrs Garnett is late. She passed away in January.
1984Frontline Mar. 10‘You see,..Two-minutes-to-Town is late.’ That doesn’t mean he took three minutes or even twenty minutes to get to town. It is the idiomatic way of explaining that Two-minutes-to-Town is no more.
1988M. Matshoba inStaffriderVol.7No.3, 14There’s no father. Only the old lady. The old man is late.
1991R.M. ElliotInformant, AddoIn referring to a deceased person, people don’t say ‘The late Phindile Nxopho,’ but simply ‘The late’. So you can ask the question ‘How’s your mother,’ and receive the answer ‘Oh, she’s late,’ meaning dead.
1991H. PhillipsInformant, JohannesburgTelephone conversation between relative of a woman student and the student’s somewhat bemused house warden, c.1987. Caller (from the Transkei): ‘Please tell Thandi her uncle is late.’ Warden, trying to be helpful: ‘Oh, was he coming to fetch her, has he been delayed?’ Caller: ‘No. She must come by taxi, the funeral is on Saturday.’
1992W. Mandela on M-Net TV 26 Apr. (Carte Blanche)I had a sister at the time — she is since late.
1992A. BridgeInformant, SowetoWhen the bereavement committee heard that Sipho Sithole’s mother was late, it immediately organised a collection to help with the funeral expenses.
1993Weekly Mail 18 June 12The late usually played bass guitar in his time.
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