Mum, Mom or Mama

My son calls me mum, my eldest daughter calls me mom or mommy dearest and my youngest daughter calls me mum or mother goose.  Whilst reading a text from my youngest daughter I began to ponder the origins of the words mum, mom and mother goose, so did a little digging and below are my findings.

More than a thousand years ago in the southern part of what today is known, as England the spoken language was Anglo Saxon.  Anglo Saxon later also became known as Old English and is the mother tongue from which Modern English is descended.

Old English “modor”, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch “moeder” and German “mutter” from an indo European root shared by Latin “mater” and Greek “meter”.

The Modern English word “mother” comes from the Latin “mater” which means mother

“Mammy” appears to be a variant of “mama” used in several English dialects, including Hiberno English or Irish English, as it is commonly known.

I personally believe that “mum” and “mom” are regional variations, what do you think?

The term “Mother Goose” is another can of worms as ownership of the term is claimed by numerous sources.  I did however discover written reference in a magazine by the French critic Jean Loret in his 1650 “La Muse Historique” which contains the line, “Comme un conte de la Mere Oye” which translates into “Like a Mother Goose story”.

The Contes de ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose Tales) was edited in 1697 by Charles Perrault, and is made of eight tales:

La Belle au bois dormant (The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood)

Le Petit Chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood)

Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard)

Le Chat botté (The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots)

Les Fées (The Fairies)

Cendrillon (Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper)

Riquet à la houppe (Ricky of the Tuft)

Le Petit Poucet (Little Thumb)


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