I'm wondering if the "of me" structure could be of Irish origin - one common expression is "s/he'll be the death of me". In spite of having the Irish language beaten into me for 13 years at school, I'm not familiar enough with it to say if this structure is taken directly from the Irish. (There are
other expressions/structures directly translated from Irish that have travelled abroad, well, to certain countries/areas.)
Funny, I dont find the phrase childish, maybe cause of that familiarity - it's more like something that adults would put in childrens mouths to sound amusing, I think. I'm not very familiar with the exact phrase, but pretty sure I've heard it at the same time. See the quote below for more thoughts on whether childish or not - and another possible origin.http://volokh.com/ar..._31.shtml#1090814312
|Some said they thought it was supposed to imitate the syntax of a child, being as how kids are more apt to say "You're not the boss of me" than (most) adults are. I don't buy this one. It leaves unaddressed the question of why this should sound like childish syntax. After all, how many kids have you heard saying things like friend of me, doctor of me, mother of me, etc.? In other words, most kids seem to have possessives with relational nouns other than boss well in hand, so the question is still: What is so special about boss? And anyway, I think you sound equally childish whether you say, "You're not the boss of me!" or "You're not my boss!"|
Other readers guessed that boss of me was formed on analogy with phrases such as king of England, mayor of the town, chair of the committee, etc. At first I didn't put much stock in this hypothesis, either, since the of-phrases in these examples are geographic areas, or collective nouns, not singular individuals. However, one reader (whom I'd be happy to credit, but who wishes to remain anonymous) pointed me to the 1979 movie Norma Rae, in which the title character tells an antagonist something like this:
you may be the boss of this town, you may be the boss of this factory, you may be the boss of this shop, but you ain't the boss of me
This speaker goes from town to factory to shop until she gets to the smallest location of all, consisting of just one person, herself. If she'd switched from boss of to my boss at the end, it would have ruined the flow, so I can actually see a reason for saying boss of me here, and an actual instance of it being formed by analogy with more natural boss of constructions. So my favorite hypothesis at this point is that the originators of the phrase were drawing a contrast between having authority over some area or group of individuals (family, classroom, etc.) and having authority over them personally; and once coined, the phrase was imitated by other speakers.