Possibly you might have wondered if the word “Mama” or “Mamma” is used by all babies around the globe. So did I and investigated…
And the simple answer is YES. The word “Mama” is global and it’s used by children from all over the world to call their mothers during early age. Afterwards, the more language specific words like “mother”, “madre”, “Mutter”, “okaasan”, “mère” and so one are used.
How comes that? The explanation is actually very easy. The sound “ma” is one of the easiest for babies to babble and so the repetition of “ma” leads to “mama”, “mammama” or similar constellations. As all mothers on the globe react the same, when baby is “saying” their first sound, all babies react the same. And that is that the mother is smiling at her baby and giving him or her attention. Often, the sound “ma” is then associated with the mother’s breast and so by the time, “ma” is associated with that one person, who nurses the baby.
So, after all, the word “mama” isn’t actually a conscious word that baby pronounces to address the mother but more an (at first) uncontrolled babbling sound which is too soon interpreted by existed parents as a sign that their baby starts speaking his or her first words.
So, if you find yourself in a foreign country where you don’t know anything about the language, be assured: at least you can say “mama”.