Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ma, Mum, Mom, Mommy, Momma, Mother

Don Tate II of Devas T. Rants and Raves! (illustrator and HMOCL) has an interesting post about the names authors use for parents in books. He explains, "I have a dilemma, which maybe isn't a dilemma at all, but a matter of preference or background," and goes on to examine the use of Mom / Mother/ Momma in real life and children's books and what the connotations are for those different words for the same person.

It got me wondering about that; how often are authors sensitive to their own interpretations of words, and aware of what that word means to someone else?

For example, I call my mother Mom. When I read/hear Mother, I think that the story was written or set a long time ago; or, if set in the present, that the family dynamics are cold and distant. I wonder, is that just how I "hear" it? Or is indeed what the author intends I hear? I'll also make similar quick assumptions based on what grandparents are / are not called.


Don Tate II said...

Thanks! Actually, I cross-posted this, and received some interesting responses, some that surprised me: Mummy; Mudear; Mama; Ma; Mum; Ma'am; and more that referred to their mother's by their first names.

Kelly said...

Interesting! Mother seems cold to me too...Maybe because my Mom called her own (cold) mother "Mother."

web said...

The first time I met my future MIL, my future husband called her mother and shook her hand and I was so. weirded. out.

He told me later he was joking but they are definitely a "dry" family, while mine is conspiciously "wet."

But sometimes these mixed marriages can work.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

Writing, I often try to choose something other than "mom" because that one is used so often it tends to wipe out the character into a generalization. If I want the mother to fade into the background, that's when I use it.

McMinistries, UnInc. said...

Names are interesting. You may find The Names of God interesting. I archived them on May 6, '06 on my blog.

Anonymous said...

My step-children, aged 14 and 16, call their grandmother "gram" while their 3 year old twin cousins call her "grandmother." I thought at first that the parents chose the name but apparently the twins came up with it themselves when they were just learning to speak. Go fig.

For me, though, my mother will always be "Mother" because I was 13 when she died and just starting the angry teen stage that meant saying "Ma-ther!" in an annoyed tone every time I said it.