Watch: We ask Birmingham: Is it spelled ‘Mom’ or ‘Mum’?
Did you know it’s only Birmingham and the West Midlands who call their mothers ‘Mom’? The rest of the UK tends to use ‘Mum’
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Here in the West Midlands we have a very distinct way of speaking. One of our peculiarities is the way we spell the abbreviation for mother. Most people tend to call her ‘mom’ - which is generally considered American - as opposed to ‘mum’ which is the most popular English term, according to analysis by Oxford University Press.
OUP looked at short stories written by children across the country and found that ‘Mom’ was the top word used more in the West Midlands than any other area. This suggests that most other regions plump for calling their mothers ‘Mum’. But it’s popularity in the West Midlands shows it may be a regional pronunciation, maybe influenced by the Brummie accent.
We ask people in Birmingham whether they use “mom” or “mum”, and if they ever noticed the difference? The first person we spoke to was Danielle who said she uses “Mom” but didn’t know it was unique to the West Midlands.
She told us: “No, I guess not. I guess when you’re growing up, it’s just kind of how you spell it. Everyone else around you spells it that way. It’s kind of like, I guess the thing of a ‘cob’. Until I got a little bit older, you don’t realise that you’re using a ‘cob’. No one else uses it that way, right? It’s kind of like yeah, it’s unique to Birmingham and maybe the West Midlands, I guess.”
Abdul, who grew up in Ireland and moved to Birmingham in recent years, interchanges between “mom” and “mum” without realising it. “I never really looked too deep into it, I guess. No one’s ever told me. Oh, that’s not how you spell ‘mom’.
“But yeah, I guess I just noticed that people spell it differently and I just never thought about it to be honest. But it might be because I’ve lived in Birmingham.” John, who was raised in Birmingham, said that he has always used “mum”.
Both Erin and Paulina, both from the West Midlands, use “mom”. They were both aware that this is different to the rest of the UK. When asked if she had ever really thought about the difference Erin said, “When I was younger I didn’t, but whenever I was at University and said ‘mom’ they were like ‘are you American?’ - they do think it’s really weird but for me ‘mum’ is weird’.
Charlie who grew up in Gloucestershire when asked whether he had noticed the difference said, “Yes. I was kind of aware of it. Is it an American thing? Is it like a Black Country thing? Because I was wondering why so many people were doing that because I’ve only used ‘mum’. I was vaguely aware of it and I never really knew why - it wasn’t something I investigated much.”
We also asked Abdul what he thinks of accents in the West Midlands. “Oh, I like the accent. I think because I used to have an Irish accent and people used to like that accent - and the Birmingham accent is so unique. I feel like it’s one of a kind so I don’t really like other English accents. So I feel like Birmingham is the best one and yeah, West Midlands in general as well. Apart from areas such as Dudley and the Yam Yam accent - that sounds horrible!”