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  1. Senior Member
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    #1

    If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    I checked Google Ngram, and it shows "mom" is vastly more common than "mum". However, I can still see "mum" quite a lot in exercises. I know that either u or o can be used to represent /ʌ/ as in "sun" and "son". I'm just wondering why we even have the "mum" spelling in English. It seems logical for "mom" to come from "mother" and "mommy", they all share the same spelling. If you think about it like that, then "mum" should be short for "mummy", not "mommy".

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    I vaguely remember using mom. I'm sure I never used mum or mummy.
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    #3

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    Mum/mum and Mummy/mummy are common in BrE.

    Mum/mum are not short forms of Mummy/mummy. Mummy/mummy are diminutives of Mum/mum

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    I think you meant mom/mum and mommy/mummy

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  5. Senior Member
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    #5

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    Does it mean you use "mummy" to call your mother in BrE? I thought "mummy" only referred to the product of mummification.
    Last edited by Glizdka; 12-May-2019 at 09:53. Reason: typo

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    #6

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    No. I meant the forms with the initial capital (for the name) and without.

  7. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    Let me clarify:

    mum/mummy are used in British English. In the UK, people don't use mom/mommy.

    mom/mommy are used in American English. In the US, people don't use mum/mummy.

    The ngram data is explained by the fact that there are significantly more speakers of American English. The texts in which you see mum/mummy are therefore likely to be written by a BrE speaker.

    The spelling relates to the different ways the words are pronounced. The 'u' sound in the British mum is identical to the 'o' in mother. In American English, the vowels represented by mom and mother are not the same.

    This post relates only to UK and US English. I'm not sure about other varieties.

    Many of the things I've said here are generalisations, made for the sake of clarity. I expect there to be some exceptions.

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    #8

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    Mam is also used in some BrE dialects.

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    #9

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    ... and 'Mammy' is also used in some British and American dialects.

  10. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: If "mom" means "mommy", then "mum" should mean "mummy"

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Mum/mum are not short forms of Mummy/mummy. Mummy/mummy are diminutives of Mum/mum
    Actually, I'm not sure about that now. I've just been looking at the Online Etymology Dictionary, which says:

    mum (n.2)
    pet word for "mother," 1823, short for mummy (see
    mamma).

    (Link here)

    However, in this link, with respect to earliest known recorded usage, mum predates mummy by 16 years:

    In terms of the recorded appearance of the variant or related words in English, mama is from 1707, mum is from 1823, mummy in this sense from 1839, mommy 1844, momma 1852, and mom 1867.

    It is not clear whether mummy is an affixed form of mum or whether mum is an abbreviated form of mummy. If pushed to guess, I'd go for the latter, based on what the dictionary says about likely origins of mamma, i.e. that it is originally a reduplication of the syllable ma. If that is the case (which I find convincing), then it seems to me that the final phoneme -m of mum is likely to have formerly been the initial phoneme of a pre-existing syllable.
    Last edited by jutfrank; 12-May-2019 at 11:35.

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