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A song in Aladdin, “A Friend Like Me” starts with this line:

Well, Alibaba had them forty thieves

In this line, does the word “them” function as an apposition? Does the “them” indicates the thieves in the animation at that time? (I mean the thieves Genie make appear as he sings)

  • See Dem Bones - reflecting the commonplace "reduction" of TH to D in AAVE. Any such determiner (them, those, the) implies that both the speaker and his audience are already aware of the existence of the thing(s) being referred to (everyone knows the tale of Alibaba and the 40 thieves). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 24 '18 at 12:36
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Genie is using "them" in a colloquial sense, where "them" replaces the determiner "those". He's not referring to the animation specifically, but to the famous forty thieves from the story of Ali Baba, in the sense that you would say, "You know those _____?" or "Remember those___?"

(He's also technically incorrect, as Ali Baba didn't "have" the forty thieves, but only encountered them. I suppose Disney only had a limited number of Middle Eastern references they could expect audiences of the time to recognize.)

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Technically, the use of 'them' in this sentence is incorrect; it should be 'those'. In this case, 'them' (or correctly 'those') is not being used as a pronoun but as a demonstrative adjective, so it is referring to all of the forty thieves.

The use of 'them' instead of 'those' is common in some areas of the United States (especially in the South) and in some parts of the United Kingdom, as explained in the following linked article (Those v Them).

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