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  • Subject

    mama, papa

    I am proofreading blurbs for a foreign rights catalogue and found 'Mama' and 'Papa' translated as 'mama' and 'papa'. This strikes me as unusual because I don't think I've ever come across a British or American 'mama' or 'papa' outside a nineteenth century novel. Don't you usually say 'mum(my) and dad(dy)' or mom(my) and dad(dy) or have I missed something here?
    AuthorRosanna 24 Sep 07, 15:25
    my wife still calls her parents "mama" and "papa"...

    #2AuthorTango(USA) (143560) 24 Sep 07, 21:36
    yes, but would you say that this is usual?
    #3Authorrosanna (242941) 25 Sep 07, 08:56
    Please remember the flower power quartet "The Mamas and the Papas" and the Barbra Streisand song "Papa, can you hear me". I'm totally unsure, however, what connotations "mama" and "papa" have. Maybe it's popular among people who have immigrated recently.
    #4Author AndreasS (251947) 25 Sep 07, 09:04

    I don't know if it's ok to say "usual" but it's common.
    Especially in the southern U.S. at least.
    It's even common to carry over once "Mamma" becomes a grandmother.

    Personally, my paternal grandmother was always referred to as, "Grandmamma". My nieces and nephews refer to my mother-in-law as "Grandmamma".

    "Papa" is, in my opinion, not as usual or common, but it's still used.

    I should note, however, that I think these terms are used in more casual conversation.
    A stranger talking to a child might ask, "Where's your mamma?" Would also most likely ask, "Where's your daddy?" (not "where's your PAPA?")..

    A stranger talking to a teenager would probably ask, "Where is your MOM?" "Where is your DAD?"
    (or even more formally, "where are your mother and father?"

    Sorry for the long response.
    Does that help?
    #5AuthorTango(USA) (143560) 25 Sep 07, 18:33
    I think you're absolutely right.

    To my ears both words, perhaps more so 'papa,' have a very dated sound. That's not to say some people might not still use them (my mother called her mother Mama), but they certainly aren't the default modern translation, unless the context is historical and/or rural.
    #6Author hm -- us (236141) 25 Sep 07, 18:38
    That is, I think Rosanna is absolutely right to question the translation.

    'Mama' is still sometimes used by little children, but 'mommy' is probably more common, and both are usually only paired with 'daddy,' at least in AE.
    #7Author hm -- us (236141) 25 Sep 07, 18:40
    Hi Rosanna,
    maybe a stranger in the U.S will ask a child: "Where is your Mum, where is you Dad?" But it is common in German speaking countries, that you still use: 'Mama' and 'Papa' or even to a younger a child: "where is your mami", and "where is your Papi?" - but to be honest, this is baby-language -)))
    #8AuthorSamira (DE)25 Sep 07, 18:43
    I agree that the terms are paired, and usually used only by children.

    mommy and daddy.
    mama and papa.

    #9AuthorTango(USA) (143560) 25 Sep 07, 18:44
    a stranger in the U.S. will not ask a child, "where is your MUM"...

    A stranger in the UK might do that, though. :) :) :)
    #10AuthorTango(USA) (143560) 25 Sep 07, 18:52
    a stranger in the U.S. will not ask a child, "where is your MUM"...
    - unless, of course, that stranger is FROM the UK ;b

    Anyone remember the old Carol Burnett show? One of the regular characters on there was "Mama". The skits were usually hilarious.
    #11AuthorRobert -- US (unplugged)26 Sep 07, 00:54
    Green, Green Grass Of Home
    by Claude Puttman Junior

    "The old home town looks the same,
    As I step down from the train,
    And there to meet me is my mama and my papa ..."
    #12Author AndreasS (251947) 26 Sep 07, 09:51
    Madonna sang "Papa don't preach" about 20 years ago.

    Lots of children's books will refer to characters such as "Mama Bear".

    But "Mommy" and "Daddy" for younger children and "Mom" and "Dad" for older kids seem to be the most commern terms Americans use when speaking directly to their parents.

    Remember, however, that a considerable number of Americans are first or second generation and might use "Mama" and "Papa" because these terms might be more common in those countries from which their parents emigrated.
    #13AuthorRita26 Sep 07, 10:03
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