Nan or nan, Mum or mum?

edited March 2012 in - Writing Problems
I have Random Capitals Disease, which means I can't figure out if I should write lower or upper with the words mum and nan in a story (I'm assuming what is good for one is good for t'other). Doesn't help that the OED cites lower and my spellcheck (which I think has the US setting as it doesn't appreciate 'favour') strongly suggests upper!

Help!

Comments

  • edited March 2012
    Nan, if addressing her - "Hey, Nan", but nan as in 'His nan put the kettle on.' If using it as her name, it's a capital.' "What are you doing," Nan asked.'
  • Muchly ta!
  • Agree.

    My mum said....

    Mum said...
  • I think the correct rule is use a capital if you can replace the term with a name and it still makes sense:

    Hey, Dad, want to go to the park? (Hey, John, want to go to the park? - works, so use capital)

    I'm off to the park with my dad. (I'm off to the park with my John - doesn't work, so don't use capital)
  • Yup. I'm their nan and they call me Nan.
    "What do you want for dinner, Mum?" I asked my mum.
  • I've never used the word Mum in my writing. We use and say Mom, and Nan, always have, but we all find the word Mum quite awful an terribly strange. But yes, capitals if you are addressing said person, and not if it's non-addressed within the narrative.
  • [quote=liz young]"What do you want for dinner, Mum?" I asked my mum. [/quote]

    Perfectly simple answer.
  • [quote=Red]we all find the word Mum quite awful an terribly strange.[/quote]

    Are you by any chance American? :)
  • [quote=liz young]Are you by any chance American? [/quote]

    No, liz, I'm English born and bred. However, 'mom' is actually from old English, and therefore the correct version of mother. It is still widely used in the West Midlands and Birmingham and other parts of the UK, and the word 'mum' will get you a funny look, since it's a bastardised word conjured up from somewhere. Mom and mommy are correct. Mum and mummy are silly. And one of them describes a corpse wrapped in bandages. Says it all really.
  • Wow, I never knew that. But I could never switch to Mom now!
  • Me neither. As important as the West Midlands are, they are only a small part of our country so I think mum is the norm here. My father is from the WM and he says mum and so did his parents and cousins.
  • Some people say Ma, or mam. I've heard a scottish person say "Da" for his dad.

    There is also "mother."
  • Or "mater"
  • It's also worth noting that most of the West Midlands still speaks Anglo-Saxon, or forms of Old English, and that it's mostly Germanic in origin. So Mom is the shortened form of Modra, the Anglo Saxon for mother. That's why we use mom here and not mum, which is frowned upon. But I have no idea why it's known as mom in the US. Perhaps someone has the answer!
  • Always took Mom and Mommy to be an American thing so I've learnt something. Just how big an area IS the West Midlands? Is it surrounded by a very tall wall? Don't take offence, I'm being flippant. As Dora has said, though, it's obviously one of those regional things like mam and da.
    [quote=Red] Mum and mummy are silly.[/quote]
    So you've met my mother, then! Yeah, she has her moments. :) We all say Mum and/or Mummy down here.
  • [quote=Red]I've never used the word Mum in my writing. We use and say Mom, and Nan, always have,[/quote]

    I agree.
  • My family is from the West Midlands and we've always used Mum and Mom interchangeably, though I more often use Mum now, especially when writing it.

    I don't think you can say either is 'right' or 'wrong' - they're just different.
  • Mum is a lazy corruption of Mama, which comes from Ma Mere (apologies for lack of accent) just as Ma'am is a corruption of Madame. The upper classes in England spoke French at home until well into the 17th century, which is possibly where Mum came from.
    If you go to the OED and look any of these words up, you will end up on a paperchase through the centuries: interestingly they give Mom as only US - Red, you need to speak to them.
    They think mama is from a child's first cries; that gives rise to Mammy, Mam, Mum, Mummy. Note also mum - as in what Mummers do, coming from a German word...
    Mother comes from O.E. modor - the final m of Mom is therefore also a corruption. I was born in Lancashire of Yorkshire/Lancashire parents, and we always said Mum.
    As regional variants are widespread in the UK, for all manner of historical reasons, there is no one right form for the entire country.

    So, Red, if I were to wander into the West Midlands and say, "Her cuom se here to Readingum in West Seaxne", they'd immediately know what I was on about. That's a relief, then.
  • [quote=Red]It is still widely used in the West Midlands and Birmingham and other parts of the UK,[/quote]

    Yes,I'm a Brummie and always called my mom Mom. I remember though, that Mom got furious if my girls called her 'Nan', or 'Nanny.'. pointing out very forcefully that she wasn't a goat

    [quote=bertiebear]o, Red, if I were to wander into the West Midlands and say, "Her cuom se here to Readingum in West Seaxne", they'd immediately know what I was on about. That's a relief, then.[/quote]

    In the Black Country it's still possible to find old Saxon words in the dialect. My late M in L always referred to the back yard as the 'fode', (fold or enclosure) and I'm pretty sure there are others.
  • I really don't like Nan or Nanny, much prefer Granny.
  • [quote=Red]Mum and mummy are silly.[/quote]
    A person of definite views is Red. :)
    Me, I like the diversity of languages and dialects.
    I was brought up by an English father and Australian mother in Tranmere, Rugby and Hove, so I had the opportunity to pick up all kinds of linguistic quirks.
    I called my parents Mummy and Daddy until my teens when I changed to Mum and Pa. My own kids did the same with their dad and me.
    My grandsons have a Sussex-born father and a Slovakian mother and they call their parents Daddy and Mummy.
    My other daughter-in-law is Canadian, so she uses "Mom".
    My OH is from Yorkshire and his mother was "Muther". Some of our friends refer to their father as "The auld fella".
    I'm "Nan" because my Manchunian step-grandchildren called me "Nanny Liz" and it stuck. My own mother is Granny to her 17 grandchildren.
    The children here say "Mami" or sometime "Ma". In France it's "Mama".
    ...........so in my opinion no region or person should try to dictate what's the right name to use for ones parents.
  • [quote=liz young]Red wrote: Mum and mummy are silly.
    A person of definite views is Red. [/quote]

    I am, liz. If I addressed my mom as 'Mum', she'd slap be into next week.

    [quote=snailmale]bertiebear wrote: o, Red, if I were to wander into the West Midlands and say, "Her cuom se here to Readingum in West Seaxne", they'd immediately know what I was on about. That's a relief, then.
    In the Black Country it's still possible to find old Saxon words in the dialect. My late M in L always referred to the back yard as the 'fode', (fold or enclosure) and I'm pretty sure there are others. [/quote]

    Quite right Snail, the Black Country is one of the few places that still "spaeks" the mother tongue. (No idea what that Lizzie in Bucks Palace is doing, speaking like she's got a golfball stuck in her clacker...)
  • [quote=Red]the Black Country is one of the few places that still "spaeks" the mother tongue.[/quote]
    Well, no - it speaks a mutated version of several introduced tongues. People did speak in the West Midlands before Romans, Vikings, Saxons, Jutes et al popped over, not to mention the Normans.
    Language grows and changes constantly; otherwise we would all understand that bit of Anglo-Saxon I quoted earlier.
    (Funny to think that Reading was Reading, even in the A-S Chronicle.)
  • [quote=bertiebear]Well, no - it speaks a mutated version of several introduced tongues. People did speak in the West Midlands before Romans, Vikings, Saxons, Jutes et al popped over, not to mention the Normans.[/quote]

    It was a joke. Mother tongue being a tongue in cheek reference which Snailmale would undoubtedly smile at.
  • I'm a born and bred Brummie, although I left B'ham many years ago to live in Staffordshire.
    In my novels I write about Birmingham. Mom is mom, always has been and always will be. I have had a number of emails regarding my use of mom as against mum. I've also been asked numerous times if I'm from the US. Not so long ago someone said I should alter mom to mum in my novel. Really? No way, what a cheek!
    I contacted Professor Carl Chinn, he is well known in Birmingham for his extensive knowledge of the area. He also teaches at Birmingham University. He has always been a huge support to me when I've been unable to track information down. Not just me I might add he has helped 100s of people over the years.
    I asked Carl about mom as against mum. Here's his reply.
    Hi Carol
    it’s Our Mom and don’t let anyone tell you different! Below is the entry from my book Proper Brummie.
    Best wishes
    Carl
    mom n. the diminutive of mother and used overwhelmingly by working-class and lower middle-class folk in Birmingham and the Black Country. On the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ page of the Birmingham Evening Mail it is rare to find the word ‘mum’. In Wales, Ireland and much of northern England, the diminutive is ‘mam’, but in the West Midlands the ‘a’ vowel is often changed to an ‘o’ sound after an ‘m’ or ‘n’; see also mon.
    When anyone writes to me now - I send this information on!
    Carol
  • A perfect explanation from Carl Chinn . . . and don’t let anyone tell you different!
  • I quite agree, Kado.
    If anyone questions me now, I quote Carl.
    It's an interesting book as well, as are all the others of his I've read.
    Carol
  • A few years ago I did a live radio interview with Carl Chinn; we are the same age. Before we went on air, we were discussing our musical tastes. I told him I was, and still am, a massive fan of Marc Bolan.

    He said the first record he bought was ‘Ride A White Swan’ by T.Rex; the same as me.

    I mentioned to Carl that T.Rex, which then existed of just Marc Bolan and Mickey Finn, performed in the grounds of Dudley Castle along with Rod Stewart, Robert plant and others under the banner of ‘Castle Rock’ a charity event for the World Wild Life Fund, in 1970.

    The programme was supposed to be about local history, but when Carl introduced me he said, ‘Here’s “Kado”, who’s going to tell us all about Marc Bolan!’

    We both burst out laughing.
  • Yes, he's a nice bloke is Carl. You can see why he's so popular can't you?
    I heard the start of his prog the other Sunday, he messed up again!
    I've met him a few times over the years, there's no side to him. He's the same off air as he is on. A really nice person.
  • And to think I was only fascinated by the use of capitals (heaven knows what you'll think of me because I started a sentence with a conjunction).

    I'm definitely a Mum (or Mummy), too, and my Mum doesn't mind being referred to as a goat, but my Sister hates it when her children are referred to as kids. Aren't dialects great, eh?
  • How do you pronounce 'mom' then?
  • [quote=CarolA]I contacted Professor Carl Chinn, he is well known in Birmingham for his extensive knowledge of the area.[/quote]

    I've met with Professor Chinn too. Very nice bloke, and he knows his stuff.

    [quote= Dudess]And to think I was only fascinated by the use of capitals (heaven knows what you'll think of me because I started a sentence with a conjunction). [/quote]

    Nothing wrong with conjunctions, especially cleverly placed ones.
  • To get back to the point, Dudess, capitalise the word when it's used as a proper noun, otherwise don't. It's logical really. Punctuate the proper nouns in the following exercises to check if you've got it:
    1. Tell mum she's the best mum in the world.
    2. No, mum, I'm not letting my own mum get away with that.
    3. She phoned her mum to remind her that mum wasn't going to be there.

    If you changed only one word in each, you could have been right.
  • Oh we've had this mom, mum thing before I think. I guess the majority of the nation will say mum. Red said Mom but when she first told me that a year or two ago I was shocked as I've never once hear that in these isles before or since. So no it's not the norm but may be regional. Which is the beauty of this island we all walk upon. I hate it when I hear Americans talk about a British accent. What is that then a Scottish, so Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh? Or a welsh, Irish or any region in-between?

    What they mean of course is a Hugh Grant accent that only 0.2% of people speak. A black country, Geordie, south Wales, Irish (ALL), Scouse, and anything Scottish blows my mind. So yeah as Steve said if you can replace it with a name make it a proper noun, If not small letter. But please enjoy the diversity of our regional accents and language.
  • I found this thing about Mom or Mum interesting. Only a few times have I come across people here in England using 'Mom', and always thought it to be more an American thing. Certainly my American or Canadian friends online always speak of 'Mom' more than any other term. In Buxton, Derbyshire where I grew up, all the kids I ever knew used 'Mum' or in some cases, 'Mam'. The only other term I heard was from my dad, who always called his mother 'Ma'.
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