I was rather surprised to learn that the Chinese word for "mommy" is māmā.

It never surprised me to hear that this word is similar among Western languages, because of some common origin or borrowing reasons. But then, it looks like this word is the same in Eastern languages like Chinese (and also Japanese).

Is this just because "ma" is the maybe the "easiest" syllable to articulate for a child? And, moreover, is this true?

  • [m] is a sound produced by the lips, which are the first part of the vocal apparatus to get fully innervated and working, to suck. It's nasal because the nasal passage is open; it takes time to learn to close it while keeping the oral passage open. And [a] is the vowel produced when the mouth is open and the tongue is not tensely controlled. A little phonetics goes a long way.
    – jlawler
    Jun 30, 2013 at 15:27
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