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Uncommon Knowledge: Who gave Mom her name?

Parents may give a name to their new baby, but it’s those babies who gave us the name “mom.” While the babbling of a little one may sound like nonsense, it actually represents a child’s first steps toward learning language. Those first sounds typically take the shape of a consonant followed by a vowel, with the short A sound being one of the easiest vowels to form. Babies will begin with the consonants they can make with their lips (M, B, P), followed by those made with their tongue (D, T, L, N). So, if Mama, Papa and Dada are naturally formed as part of an infant’s linguistic experimentation, why is it that it Mom gets her name specifically, rather than one of the other two? Perhaps it’s because M is the only consonant sound that can be made while nursing. At any rate, Mothers have some version of the M+vowel combination as a name in nearly every language: Mommy, Mama, Maman, Oma, Em, Mutti, Mare, Maty, etc.

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Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

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