The fact that every baby says mama is not a coincidence. It is actually the only word that is common to all cultures across the globe. Unlike any other word, ‘mama’ has remained unique and unchanged in baby talk throughout the centuries.
‘Mama’ is a universal term that describes the women that gives life. As the form of the word varies from country to country, each baby still says ‘mama’ as their first word.
Why baby says mama first
The ‘mama’ word was studied by linguists and it is associated with the breast. So ‘mama’ is not just unconditional love and comfort, but also a primary source of nourishment. That is why linguist Roman Jakobson found that the ‘mama’ word is the easiest to pronounce for a small baby.
A baby is able to pronounce open mouth vowels in the first months of life. The use of consonants starts later on. And the easiest one is ‘m’, the consonant that can be pronounced with a closed mouth. Thus, baby says mama to ask for comfort and food. Linguists also say that ‘mmm’ is associated with pleasure. The pleasure of the nourishing breast milk from mum. So baby says mama when sucking on the breast, not only the source of nourishment, but also comfort and love.
Origin of ‘mama’
‘Mamma’ also means breast in Latin, which only makes sense. It is also a root sound of other words in many cultures. Even the original English word for mother was recorded as ‘mama’ in the 1700s. So it seems that baby talk led to the actual word used in many languages around the globe.