Mama and papa

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In linguistics, mama and papa are considered a special case of false cognates. In many languages of the world, sequences of sounds similar to /mama/ and /papa/ mean "mother" and "father", usually but not always in that order. This is thought to be a coincidence resulting from the process of early language acquisition.[1][2][3][4]

These terms use speech sounds that are among the easiest to produce: bilabials like /m/, /p/, and /b/, and the open vowel /a/. They are, therefore, often among the first word-like sounds made by babbling babies (babble words), and parents tend to associate the first sound babies make with themselves and to employ them subsequently as part of their baby-talk lexicon. Thus, there is no need to ascribe to common ancestry the similarities of !Kung ba, Aramaic abba, Mandarin Chinese bàba, and Persian baba (all "father"); or Navajo amá, Mandarin Chinese māma, Swahili mama, Quechua mama, and Polish mama (all "mother"). For the same reason, some scientists believe that 'mama' and 'papa' were among the first words that humans spoke.[5] However, there is nothing of motherhood or fatherhood inherent in the sounds.

Variants using other sounds do occur: for example, in Fijian, the word for "mother" is nana, the Mongolian and Turkish word is ana, and in Old Japanese, the word for "mother" was papa. The modern Japanese word for "father," chichi, is from older titi. Very few languages lack labial consonants (this mostly being attested on a family basis, in the Iroquoian and some of the Athabaskan languages), and only Arapaho is known to lack an open vowel /a/. The Tagalog -na- / -ta- ("mom" / "dad" words) parallel the more common ma / pa in nasality / orality of the consonants and identity of place of articulation.

The linguist Roman Jakobson hypothesized that the nasal sound in "mama" comes from the nasal murmur that babies produce when breastfeeding:

Often the sucking activities of a child are accompanied by a slight nasal murmur, the only phonation which can be produced when the lips are pressed to mother’s breast or to the feeding bottle and the mouth full. Later, this phonatory reaction to nursing is reproduced as an anticipatory signal at the mere sight of food and finally as a manifestation of a desire to eat, or more generally, as an expression of discontent and impatient longing for missing food or absent nurser, and any ungranted wish. When the mouth is free from nutrition, the nasal murmur may be supplied with an oral, particularly labial release; it may also obtain an optional vocalic support.

— Roman Jakobson, Why 'Mama' and 'Papa'?

Examples by language family

'Mama' and 'papa' in different languages:[6][7]

Afro-Asiatic languages

Austroasiatic languages

  • Khmer has different words that indicate different levels of respect. They include the intimate ម៉ាក់ (mak/meak) and ប៉ា (pa), the general ម៉ែ (mai/me) and ពុក (puk), and the formal ម្ដាយ (madaay) and ឪពុក (ovpuk).[8]
  • Vietnamese, mẹ is mother and bố is father. and ba or cha respectively in Southern Vietnamese.

Austronesian languages

  • Tagalog, mothers can be called ina, and fathers ama. Two other words for the same in common use, nanay and tatay, came from Nahuatl by way of Spanish.[9][10][11] Owing to contact with Spanish and English, mamá, papá, ma(m(i)), and dad [dʌd] or dádi are also used.[12]
  • In Indonesian, mother is called Emak (mak) or Ibu (buk), father is called Bapak or Ayah. The modern Indonesian word for "Father", was (Papi) & "Mother", was (Mami).the word "Mami & Papi" has been used since the days of the Dutch Indies Colonial, causing the mixing of the words "Papa & Mama", Europe to "Papi & Mami", Indonesia.

Constructed languages

Dravidian languages

  • Though amma and nana are used in Tulu, they are not really Tulu words but used due to the influence of neighboring states' languages. The actual words for mother in Tulu is nane pronounced IPA: [nane] and the word for father in Tulu is amme pronounced IPA: [amæ]. Note that the usage of these words is at odds with the usage pattern in other languages (similar to Georgian in that sense).
  • In Telugu, "Thalli" and "Thandri" are used for mother and father in formal Telugu. Tata and nana or pa are used for mother and father for the informal way. Notice how nana refers to maternal grandfather in Hindi, and how that differs from its Telugu meaning. "Nayana" is also used for father in informal Telugu in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana of India. Note that the usage of these words is at odds with the usage pattern in other languages (similar to Tulu and Georgian in that sense).
  • In Malayalam, the word for mother is "Amma" and for father is "Achan". In scholastic usage, Mathav and Pithav are used respectively. "Achan" is a transformed Malayalam equivalent of the Sanskrit "Arya" for "Sir/Master" (Arya - ajja -> ayya). Other words like "Appan", "'Bappa'" etc. are also used for father, and words such as "Umma", "Ammachi" for mother.
  • In Tamil, "Thaai" and "Thanthai" are the formal Tamil words for mother and father; informally Amma and Appa are much more common words for mother and father respectively.
  • In the Kannada language, "Chaai" for mother and "Chande" for father are used formally. But to address them informally Kannadigas use amma for mother and nana or babe for father.

Uralic languages

  • Estonian ema
  • Hungarian apa means "father" and anya means mother, which tends to use open vowels such as [ɑ] and [ɐ]. For formal usage, these words are applied, but both mama and papa are used as well, in informal speech. For family internal addressing, apu and anyu (variants of "apa" and "anya," respectively) are also used.
  • Finnish emä (note: The use of "emä" is considered archaic in the meaning "mother of a child". The modern word is "äiti" derived from Gothic "aiþei".)

Indo-European languages

  • Albanian nena/nëna / mama
  • Assamese has ma and aai as "mother" and deuta and pitai as "father". However due to English borrowings, the words mamma and pappa are sometimes used today.
  • Bengali, the words maa ("মা") and baba ("বাবা") are used for "mother" and "father". Other ways include abba (আব্বা) and abbu (আব্বু) for dad as well as baap (বাপ) for father. Other ways of saying mum are amma (আম্মা) and ammu (আম্মু).
  • Belarusian мама (mama) for mom and тата (tata) for dad.
  • Bulgarian мама (mama)
  • Catalan mamà / mama
  • Croatian mama
  • Czech máma and táta
  • Dutch mama / mam
  • English mam (regional British) /mum (standard British) /mom (US) / mama / momma and dad / dada / daddy
  • Faroese mamma
  • French maman
  • Galician nai / "mai"
  • German Mama
  • (Modern) Greek μάνα, μαμά (mana, mama)
  • Hindi has the word mātā and pitaji as the formal words for "mother" and "father", though the shorter informal term maa and pita is more common. Due to English borrowings, the words mamma and pappa are also common.
  • Gujarati uses mātā, or , for mother and bāpuji, or pitā, for father. Informally, the terms mammi and pappā are also used, possibly due to English influence.
  • Icelandic mamma; pabbi
  • Irish "Máthair" (Pronounced 'maw-hir')
  • Italian mamma and papà
  • Konkani language, the word "aai" for "mother" and "baba" "father" are used, given the language's close similarity to Marathi. However due to English borrowings, the words mamma and pappa are much more common today.
  • Lithuanian mama
  • Lombard mader
  • Maithili language has the word Mami and Papa to refer mother and father respectively Which is borrowed from English and is very popular in Mithila federal state of Nepal and Bihar state of India.
  • Marathi Aai (“आई”) for mother and Baba (“बाबा”) for father. However due to English borrowings, the words mamma and pappa are much more common today.
  • Nepali language has the words ma" to refer to mother and "ba" for father. However due to English borrowings, the words mamma and pappa are much more common today.
  • Norwegian mamma
  • Odia reffers bapa (ବାପା) for father and bou (ବୋଉ) for mother. However due to English borrowings, the words mamma and pappa are much more common today.
  • Old Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit): Mātṛ / Ambā
  • Persian madar مادر is he formal word for mother, whereas ممان or maman is the informal word for mother. pedar پدر is the formal word for father whereas baba or بابا is the informal word for father.
  • Polish mama and tata
  • Portuguese mãe / mamã / mamãe (only in Brazil) and pai / papá / papai (only in Brazil)
  • Romanian mama / mamă
  • Russian мама (mama) In Russian papa, deda and baba mean "father", "grandfather" and "grandmother" respectively, though the last two can represent baby-talk (baba is also a slang word for "woman", and a folk word for a married woman with a child born). In popular speech tata and tyatya for "dad" were also used until the 20th century.
  • Serbian мама / mama
  • Sinhalese, the word for mother originally was "abbe" ("abbiyande") and father was "appa " ("appanande"). Use of "amma" for mother and "nana" for father is due to heavy influence of Tamil. In some areas of Sri Lanka, particularly in the Central Province, Sinhalese use the word "nanachhi" for father.
  • Slovak mama | Tata, also tato
  • Slovene mama / ata, also tata
  • Spanish mamá
  • Swedish mamma and pappa
  • Swiss German mami, but mame in the dialect from Graubünden and mamma in certain dialects from the Canton of Bern
  • Ukrainian мама (mamа) and тато (tato)
  • Urdu the words for mother are maa/mɑ̃ː ماں, madar مادر or walida والدہ formally and ammi امی, 'mama' مما informally, whereas father is baap باپ (not used as salutation), pedar' پدر or 'walid' والد formally and baba بابا or abba ابّا or abbu ابّو informally.
  • Urdu Mother and Father are translated as maan, baap. In daily life amman, abba are used while addressing to them. Mama/baba, Ammi/abbo are also used.
  • Welsh mam tad (mutates to dad)

In the Proto-Indo-European language, *mā́tēr (modern reconstruction: *méh₂tēr) meant "mother" and *pǝtḗr (modern reconstruction: *ph₂tḗr) meant "father", and átta meant "papa", a nursery word for "father".

Kartvelian languages

  • Georgian is notable for having its similar words "backwards" compared to other languages: "father" in Georgian is მამა (mama), while "mother" is pronounced as დედა (deda). პაპა papa stands for "grandfather".

Language isolates

  • Basque: ama for mother and aita for father.
  • Japanese, 父 (chichi) and 母 (haha) are for "father" and "mother" respectively. They are the basic words which do not combine with honorifics *papa (modern Japanese /h/ derives from the Voiceless bilabial fricative [ɸ]) which in turn is from the older *p.) Japanese has also borrowed informal mama and papa along with the native terms.
  • Korean, 암마 (amma) [amma] and 너나 (neona) [nʌna] are mom and dad in informal language, which is ultimately derived from the formal words, 너너지 (neoneoji) and 아머니 (ameoni) as father and mother. Korean is usually considered a language isolate with no living relatives, but some authorities differ.
  • Kutenai, a language isolate of southeastern British Columbia, uses the word Ma.
  • Sumerian: 𒀀𒈠 / ama
  • Mapudungun: Chachay and papay are respectively "daddy"[13] and "mommy"[14], Chaw and Ñuke being "father" and "mother", respectively. Chachay and papay are also terms of respect or sympathy towards other members of the community.

Mayan languages

Niger-Congo languages

  • Igbo: Mama / Nne / Nma
  • Yoruba: Mama / Momo / Iya
  • Zulu: Mama and Baba

Sino-Tibetan languages

  • Burmese, မိခင် (mi khin) and ဖခင် (pha khin) are the words for "mother" and "father" respectively. However, parents are usually referred to by their children as မေမေ (may may) and ဖေဖေ (phay phay) — "Mom" and "Dad."
  • Mandarin Chinese, 父親 (fùqīn) and 母親 (mǔqīn) are for "father" and "mother" respectively. However, parents are usually referred to by their children as 爸爸 (bàba) and 媽媽 (māma) — "Dad" and "Mom". And sometimes in informal language, they use and mā for short. (Note: The f sound was pronounced bilabially (as with p or b) in older and some other forms of Chinese, thus fu is related to the common "father" word pa.)
  • Tibetan uses amma for mother and nana for father.

Tai-Kadai languages

Turkic languages

See also

References

  1. ^ Jakobson, R. (1962) "Why 'mama' and 'papa'?" In Jakobson, R. Selected Writings, Vol. I: Phonological Studies, pp. 538–545. The Hague: Mouton.
  2. ^ Nichols, J. (1999) "Why 'me' and 'thee'?" Historical Linguistics 1999: Selected Papers from the 14th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Vancouver, 9–13 August 1999, ed. Laurel J. Brinton, John Benjamins Publishing, 2001, pages 253-276.
  3. ^ Bancel, P.J. and A.M. de l'Etang. (2008) "The Age of Mama and Papa" Bengtson J. D. In Hot Pursuit of Language in Prehistory: Essays in the four fields of anthropology. (John Benjamins Publishing, Dec 3, 2008), pages 417-438.
  4. ^ Bancel, P.J. and A.M. de l'Etang. (2013) "Brave new words" In New Perspectives on the Origins of Language, ed. C. Lefebvre, B. Comrie, H. Cohen (John Benjamins Publishing, Nov 15, 2013), pages 333-377.
  5. ^ Gosline, Anna (26 July 2004). "Family words came first for early humans". NEW SCIENTIST.
  6. ^ mama on the map
  7. ^ papa on the map
  8. ^ អឹង, គឹមសាន (2015). រិទ្យាសាស្រ្ដសិក្សាសង្គម (Grade 1 Society School Book). Cambodia: Publishing and Distributing House. pp. 2–3. ISBN 9789995001551.
  9. ^ Rodriguez, Evelyn Ibatan (2005-01-01). Coming of Age: Identities and Transformations in Filipina Debutantes and Mexicana Quinceañeras. University of California, Berkeley. p. 65. [A] considerable number of elements crept into Philippine languages...including...nanay...and tatay.
  10. ^ Morrow, Paul (2007-10-01). "Mexico is not just a town in Pampanga". Pilipino Express News Magazine. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  11. ^ Wright, Mr Mal (2013-03-01). Shoestring Paradise - Facts and Anecdotes for Westerners Wanting to Live in the Philippines. Lulu Press, Inc. ISBN 9781105936265.
  12. ^ English, Leo James (2015). Tagalog-English Dictionary (27 ed.). Quezon City: Kalayaan Press Mktg. Ent. Inc. (National Book Store). ISBN 9710844652.
  13. ^ 2007. Ineke Smeets. A Grammar of Mapuche. Berlin: Mouton Grammar Library.
  14. ^ 1916. Fray Félix José de Augusta. Diccionario Araucano-Español y Español-Araucano. Santiago: Imprenta Universitaria
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