Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||'mum' in British English|
I am a native American English speaker. I know the word ''mum'' is
used in British English as a familiar reference for mother; it is
even used to refer to the queen mother. but in watching hours of
British television I noticed that ''mum'' is also used to refer to
female figures of authority/rank.
How did it become acceptable for typical citizens to refer to the
queen mother as ''mum'', and is that related to its use with any
female in a position of authority? If unrelated, why is ''mum'' used
for any female authority figure?
They used to refer to Queen Elizabeth's mother as the "queen mum"
I think you may actually confusing two phonologically similar (to American ears) words:
"mum" equivalent to "mom" in American English
"ma'am" pronounced with an "ah" instead of an "æ" sound.
The two vowels are slightly different, the latter being a bit longer than the former.
(I'm not a native speaker of British English, but watch lots of British period dramas ;-) )
|Reply From:||Susan D Fischer click here to access email|