1.31.2009

When mom became mum

I came upon an article in the Daily Mail (which seems chock-full of gossip and trashy news that probably gets them a lot of readers thus advertising money) about typical over-exposed, self-indulgent American actors who have been together for a record-breaking few years.

I noticed in the article something that is definitely more British than American: the use of the word "mum" instead of "mom": "My friends were always a little bit older and when I was young, I spent a lot of time with my mum and her friends."

I doubt he really used "mum" because we *never* use that word, unless an American is a British-wannabe or has spent a lot of time over there and it's slipped into their language use. So they probably changed it for their British readers.

9 comments:

Terry said...

That's interesting. I've noticed a few Anglicisms creeping into US English over the years. For instance, the expression, "to go missing" (as in "his dog has gone missing, and we can't find it") has supposedly entered US English from UK English. And "chips" (in the UK sense of "French fries") is used in the US in the context of "fish and chips." I think that "fish and fries" would sound odd to even many US speakers.

I never heard "mum" in the US, although it is widely used in Canada due to the British influence. These days, though, because of the prevalence of US media, "mom" is becoming more common in Canada, sort of like the battle between the traditional "zed" vs. the US "zee" for the final letter of the English alphabet.

Given how globalized the world is and how the BBC and other British sites are just a mouse click away, I wouldn't be surprised if a few US English speakers might be adopting "mum." Language is all about borrowing and loaning, anyway.

mj said...

I'd be surprised if "mum" made its way to the US.

Dennis said...

I grew up in Canada and have seen a blend of British and American uses of English terms, and Canadians just go with the flow of the times. I grew up hearing both 'mum' and 'mom'. I'm too used to 'mum' to change to 'mom'. I say 'mum' but sometimes write 'mom'. I ALWAYS say and write 'zed' NOT 'zee', and always spell words with 'OUR' for words like COLOUR, NEIGHBOUR, etc, but I never spell things with an 's' for words like ORGANIZATION instead of organisation. But they are both correct technically in Canada. There is a Canadian convention, if you look at Webster's Canadian dictionary. Cheers.

mj said...

But do you say "eh"? ;) I'm going there next month, so I'll listen and look carefully for British-influenced words.

MrPhoenix said...

"Mom and Mommy are old-English words, words that are still used in most parts of the West Midlands, we all use the term Mom and Mommy never Mum or Mummy, as here the correct spelling is Mom and Mommy has been for hundreds and hundreds of years, when people from the West Midlands and England colonized the Americas they took our correct spelling with them, hence they use Mom and Mommy and we still do in the West Midlands.

Margaret Larkin said...

Interesting...so I guess Americans are more British than some Brits :p

on life said...

How interesting... I spent my baby years in Manchester, my teenage years in and around London, and my early twenties in Canada (with visits to the US) but mostly I live in Israel.
If I remember correctly, I think that in the UK I used to say and write mum, and I took it with me to Canada. Now, having to write it in my work as a translator, I found I wasn't sure how to go. Most natural to me is mum but since the target language is EN-US, I think I best go with mom.

Thanks ;-)

on life said...
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Kane S said...

Mom was used in parts of UK before America even existed, It's still used in northern parts today. So It's not actually american just the preferred spelling in US.