Oct 2, 2015

Moms and Dads

A word extremely similar to “mom” occurs in almost every language on Earth and they are surprisingly similar across nearly all of the most commonly spoken languages. For example, if you wanted to address your mother in Dutch you would say “moeder”, in Germany “mutter”, in Italy “madre”. Here are a few more:
Chinese: Mãma
Hindi: Mam
Afrikaans: Ma
Swahili: Mama
French: Mère, Maman
Irish: Máthair
Italian: Madre, Mamma
Norwegian: Madre
Spanish: Madre, Mamá, Mami
Ukrainian: Mati
Romanian: Mama, Maica
Russian: Mat'
Welsh: Mam
Yiddish: Muter

The word “Papa” is present in several languages including Russian, Hindi, Spanish and English, while slight variations appear in German (Papi), Icelandic (Pabbi), Swedish (Pappa) and a number of other languages. In Turkish, Greek, Swahili, Malay and several other languages the word for dad is “Baba” or a variation of it.

It has been observed that babies, regardless of where in the world they are born, naturally learn to make the same few sounds as they begin to learn to speak. It has also been noted that during the babbling stage, babies will create what is known as “protowords” by combining combinations of consonants and vowels. These protowords are consistent across different cultures. The words babies make in this early babbling stage tend to use the softer contestants like B, P and M, often leading to the creation of otherwise non-words like baba, papa, and mama by the children.

It is theorized that since these are often the first sounds babies are able to make consistently, parents tended to use them to refer to themselves, which explains why words like “mama”, “papa,” “dada”, “tata” and “baba” are present in so many languages as a way of addressing parents.

These sounds are usually less complex to say than parent’s real names. Popular belief among many is the gibberish phrase da-da may have transposed to the use of the word Dad. Aroana tadi, Aztec tahtil, ta, Basque aita (father) and aitatxo (dad) and  aitaita  (grandfather),  Czech, Irish and Latin daid, German Vati, Greek tata, Inca tayta, Inuit ataatak, Hungarian atya, Polish tatus, Quechua tayta, Rumanian tata,  Russian dyadya, Sanskrit Tatah, Sumerian ada, Tagalog tatay, Turkish ata, Welsh tad.

Old English fæder, Proto-Germanic fader, Old Saxon fadar, Old Frisian feder, Dutch vader, Old Norse faðir, Old High German fatar, German vater, Greek pater, Latin pater, Old Persian pita. Seems children are very intelligent. They teach us to use the names they give us.

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