The first words that most children learn are the names they use for their parents. And those early sounds vary the world over. Mum or mummy? Mumma or mom? It’s something we’ve thought about long and hard at Munchkin & Bear as we launch the business into the UK and Europe. How should we be addressing all those female parents out there?
That’s not to neglect the dads among you. But our particular challenge has been to find an equivalent for ‘mumma’, which Munchkin & Bear currently uses in Australia. Say it out loud and it might sound normal to a UK parent. Written down, it looks less familiar.
The problem is, once you start to look into names for mothers, the possibilities seem endless. Many babies come out with ‘mama’ very early on, along with ‘dada’ or ‘papa’. This remains the common term for mothers in countries such as Spain and Italy even into adulthood, but in Britain most children have moved on to ‘mummy’, ‘mum’ or ‘mam’ by the time they’re out of nappies. Prince Charles may be one of the rare exceptions, but, not surprisingly, his ‘mama’ has a decidedly more aristocratic ring to it…
In France, it will be ‘maman’, while German children call for their ‘mutti’. In Scotland, you’ll often hear people talking about their ‘maw’. If you hail from Wales or Ireland, you may well refer to your ‘mammy’. Indian communities may use ‘mata, while ‘mor’ is common across Scandinavia. Then there’s ‘Mom’, ‘mommy’ and ‘ma’, which sound distinctly North American to a British ear.
One thing all of these names share is the letter M, probably because it’s an easy sound for a small child to make. Of course, there are exceptions, such as ‘ibu’, the Malay word for mother. Then, we’ve mostly talked about Indo-European languages here. But we still had to make a decision as a business about how to communicate with our customers using terms that felt appropriate and familiar.
So, while Munchkin & Bear will continue to talk to its community of mummas in Australia, we’ve decided to plump for ‘mummy’ here in Blighty. In the end, we reasoned our playmats are designed for small children and ‘mummy’ is often heard from little ones’ mouths in the UK. Your child may call you a name that’s unique to you. If so, let us know! But, whether you’re ‘mummy’, ‘mumma’, ‘mum’ or something entirely different, your concerns about your kids remain the same. And that’s where we hope to help – where we can.