A Conversation for Ask h2g2

'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 1

Sol

I have this theory.

Kids tend to say 'Dada' first because it's easier to say than 'Mama'.

That's not the theory. That just is. Go on, try it. See how you have to move your lips much more to get the 'm' sound?

The theory is that in *every* language, the most babyish word for 'Dada' is easier to say than the word for 'Mama'.

Russian, for example is 'Papa' vs 'Mama'. 'Papa' wins again.

So. Examples?


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 2

Lanzababy - Guide Editor

I was always under the impression that babies said dada or papa first because all they needed to do to get their mothers attention was to cry WAAAAAAAAA! smiley - wah and they can do with from birth without learning.

(I think I am in a cynical mood tonight) sorry folks smiley - bigeyes


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 3

KB

Irish might be an exception, but only if you're talking *to* mama or dada and using the vocative case. If you are, then mamaí becomes "a mhamaí" (pronounced like "wammy"). And "daidí" becomes "a dhaidí", which I can't even begin to spell phonetically in English.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 4

Sol

Well, my theory goes on to say that this is because the ur-mothers have always taken thefirst signs of any consonants and gone 'ah look,he's saying your name'. Gotta butter up Ug, especially when Ug has been eyeing your 'friendship' with Ur a bit suspiciously.

So there, we can be cynical together.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 5

Sol

Ah, but KB, I'm talking first words babble here. By the time they can handle cases they'll be able to do a much wider range of sounds already.

So what are the *first* words for mama and papa in Irish?


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 6

Sol

If it's Mamai and dadai then I shall chalk Irish up to my argument.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 7

KB

I'm not sure about the argument that it *is* easier to say them, though - if you're just humming and you open your lips twice (which could be done by accident incredibly easily) it's impossible *not* to make a 'mama' sound.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 8

Sol

Babies don't have that much control over their lip movement though. I don't think they hum, or if they do it;s not the controlled humming of an adult.

My daughter has been growling and blowing raspberries up to now and she's just started saying something that sounds like 'gagaga' or possibly 'dadada' or maybe 'bababa'. The consonant sound is indistinct because she doesn't have the control to produce the sounds properly yet. And all of those sounds require very little lip movement/ lip muscle control.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 9

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

My theory was that they hear Dada far more often - I was always saying "bye bye Daddy, say bye bye to Daddy", "Hello Daddy, say hello to Daddy, look here is Daddy!" etc etc.

#1 said Dada first, but then #2 said Mama first so I started to change my mind....then realised that #2 would hear #1 saying "Mummy! Mummy! MUMMY!" all the time, so for him, he probably heard mummy more than daddy.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 10

Sol

There's some stuff about the order that consonant sounds are acquired here, a nice table more than half way down.

I'll give you that they make no distinction between mamama and dadada mind you, but still.

If you look here: http://solnushka.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/englishipacons.gif

You've got a chart showing where all the sounds are in the mouth.I found that my son did the ones on the top line (except k/g, actually, which works nicely with the information above too) before the ones on the second line.

Sorry. I'm getting abit carried away...


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 11

KB

But one of the sounds that babies - and children much older than babies - have trouble making is the R consonant. This entails curling the tongue to the roof of the mouth in much the same way as when you make a D sound. Yet kids often make a w- or y- sound instead. As late as the age of four or five it's very common. So I'm not sure tongue control is necessarily any easier.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 12

Sol

Oh, that's a good theory, kelli! Hmmmmmmmm.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 13

Sol

Oh yes, KB, absolutely. But you don't need your tongue for d or m.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 14

Sol

Blast! I forgot the link with the order of consonants acquired table thingy:
http://www.speech-therapy-information-and-resources.com/speech-development.html


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 15

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

I can't persuade J to let me have #3 to be the tie-breaker smiley - winkeye


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 16

Sol

Surely then the first word is 'no!' Or possibly 'itsnotfair!'


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 17

KB

Yes, as you said Sol, the table seems to indicate that both consonants start to be produced at the same stage, rather than one being easier than the other.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 18

Sol

*Pfffffft* KB. Insufficient research that is.


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 19

KB

smiley - laugh


'Dada' and 'Mama'

Post 20

kelli - ran 2 miles a day for 2012, aiming for the same for 2013

#1's first proper word was MORE! and #2's was NO! and that right there tells you all you need to know about my boys smiley - winkeye


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