The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.
Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Use of 'Mummy' instead of 'Mommy' in Eastern Massachusetts?|
|Question:||I recently began teaching in a small community on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and came to the surprising realization that all the locals use the term ''mummy/mum'' (English variant) instead of ''mommy/mom'' (american variant); however, they all spell it ''mommy/mom,'' not with the ''u'' as British people do. From my questions regarding the matter, it does not appear to be an affect - many of the residents were surprised to learn that their speech differed from other standard and regional American dialects. Does anyone have an explanation for this?|
|Reply:||We had a related post a little while ago about 'Queen Mum', which you might like to look at. What we have here is complex worldwide variation in both speech and writing (Mum(my), Mom(my), Mam(my) are the 3 main written variants). When it comes to the pronunciation it all hinges on the vowel, which I will call the CUT vowel, the COT vowel, and the CAT vowel. Around the world, the sounds of these vowels varies a lot, and they overlap, making the sound-symbol relationship different from one place to another, and causing problems in matching sound and symbol when people go from one place to another. For example, in my home town, the usual form is 'Mam'. But an American might here that as 'Mom' because of the big difference in the pronunciation of the CAT vowel between north-east England and the US. Anthea|
|Reply From:||Anthea Fraser Gupta click here to access email|