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  • Writer's pictureTEDGA

On the words Mama and Papa

If you are a person who pays attention to the other languages that you heard, you probably have noticed that some words are similar in different languages. Most of the time, these similarities are the result of language evolution. Language evolution occurs when a language “gives birth” to several other languages, the relationship between Latin and French, Spanish, Italian, and Romanian is a popular example of that, all the other listed languages have derived from Latin. However, there are two special exceptions in world languages. These are the words of “mama” and “papa”. These words are not only the first words that are being used by infants but also are the words that almost all languages around the world use similarly. Mama and Papa (or Daddy) (English), Mamá and Papa (Spanish), Mama and Baba (Swahili) and Anne (or ana) and Baba (Turkish), Ama and Aita (Basque) Amma and Nana (Tibetan) are just a small selection of examples from a huge selection of languages that has using the similar patterns. To explain this phenomenon it was first considered as these words are being cognates but later that theory has been disproved. The reality behind the phenomenon has been found in how we learn our mother tongues. Linguists call this Language acquisition. Language acquisition is the field that studies how we learn any language mother or second. Recent discoveries show that babies in the stage of babbling, which is the very early stages of speech and starts approximately at age of four-month, gravitate toward certain consonants and vowels due to their easily pronounced natures regardless of their native languages. Some of those sounds being consonants /p, b, t, d, g, m, n, s/ and vowels /a, ae/ are the reasons why babies all around the world produce similar first words.

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