Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Terms of Endearment: Mummy/Daddy Issues #amwriting #scifi #romance

One of the issues I run into occasionally is that, as a British writer who has taken to writing in US English (it was a requirement of my first publisher, and since at the time I expected all my work to be released through them - oh, the naivety! - I stuck with it) I quite often get little notes from my editor of  'too British' or 'non-US term'. It's not just the lack of 'u's in words (though I have my dictionary set for US so that's a rare occurrence). It's everyday stuff like the US call chips fries and crisps chips, fringe is bangs and curtains are drapes, petrol is gas and weights are in pounds as opposed to stone or, for someone like me from a science background, grams and kilograms. Sigh.

With my recent revisions on book three for Keir, I ran into a question of what is the most common US term for 'father'. I know that mummy/mum here is mommy/mom in the US, so I assumed that 'daddy' was an entirely British thing. I'd picked up Rogue One on Blu-ray the previous week, where Jyn calls her dad 'papa'. In the previous SW films, 'mother' and 'father' were used, terms I find rather formal, and in the case of one of my characters, she uses 'mother' in a rather derogatory sense since they don't get on. Her half sibling uses the formal titles because that's how his own father talks. So what would she call her father, if the formal version is intended as an insult but she's a real daddy's girl?

The answer, according to willing US volunteers on Facebook, is...daddy. The term I'd assumed entirely British ownership of is, in fact, also popular in the US (though not everywhere or in every case). This shouldn't seem so weird, but it does. When you get used to the idea that certain common terms here are different words even in an English speaking country, you kind of expect it to apply to everything. Or maybe that's just me...

Anyway, it's answered my issue of daddy/father/pop/papa (which incidentally is going to also save me a whole lot of find and replace since I used the British term in the first place) but made for a rather fun topic, especially when it comes with interesting personal and/or regional twists. By permission, I'm going to copy and paste some comments from the discussion here, or you can join in with your thoughts either in the comments below or on the FB post HERE.

Cali C Hicks: Daddy usually. Girls are more likely to call their father "Daddy" into adulthood, especially if she is a daddy's girl. Boys tend to opt for the more mature "Dad" by the time they're teens or tweens. Of course, there are exceptions. Neither my husband nor I liked being called "Mommy" or "Daddy" so we have been "Mama" and "Papa" to our kids. Papa is usually a term for a grandfather, as is "Pop-Pop." Grandparent names tend to vary by region.

Pippa Jay: Perfect (and yes, same here when they hit teens. Older boy calls us Mum and Dad in public/in front of guests).

Cali C Hicks: Mum is definitely British. It's most definitely "Mom" in the US.

Pippa Jay: Yeah, that one I knew. I guess knowing that was different I kind of expect dad to be the same (also watching Rogue One and she's using papa).

Cali C Hicks: Papa is an archaic form of address and not in use as much these days for the father. It's my husband's family tradition that the father be called "Papa." He refers to his father as "Pop." And likewise, it's my family tradition that mothers be called "Mama" rather than Mom or Mommy. I think that's more of a Southern thing.

Cali C Hicks: And in BLS, Blade's son calls him "Papa."

Chris Hayes: Here in south Louisiana in my family it's Mama and Daddy until we get embarrassed by the infantilism and switch to Mom and Dad. The age when that happens varies. Tends to be earlier for boys than girls, I've observed. I still occasionally use the infantile form and I'm 53. : )

Laurie Green: Yes, I grew up with Daddy and Dad, too. Some of my friends from European-American cultures used Papa.

Status Update
I appear to have got my mojo back, or at least some of it. Edits have been progressing well as part of Camp NaNoWriMo, as has revision on book three for Keir. I've also been adding to a short story I thought was done, but on a re-read as preparing for edits, I felt it was missing something. As part of my apparent revival, I've even gone to the lengths of booking slots with my editor for 2nd round edits on the two novellas and a story analysis on Keir's Shadow. So now I have DEADLINES! Eep! I've even been reading, though sadly for my towering TBR pile, it's another book I bought recently rather than an outstanding one. Oh well. At least I'm reading?
My Tumblr blog where I post all my cosplay is about to undergo an overhaul and rename, but I'm keeping that under wraps for now. The Tauriel cosplay is almost complete and details will be posted once the transformation is complete.
I've had a fabulous spring break with my family - perhaps a big part of why my writing mojo is back - including a visit to Cressing Temple History Fair and the Anglo-Saxon burial site of Sutton Hoo (not far from Rendlesham Forest and the UFO trail). We even came home with a sword!
Anglo-Saxon fashion

Vikings went on to use Anglo-Saxon ship design for their legendary longboats

The famous Sutton Hoo mask

Viking warriors


slug armour

Pre-loved replica sword, bought for cosplay

Chook Update
Spring break has been absolutely glorious, and my girls have had long hours roaming the garden. Excuse the view - when foraging, it tends to be very heads down, tails up. :P Plus random spring flower.


  1. Well I learned something too! Had no idea Brits use "daddy."

    1. Isn't it weird? I wonder why mum/mom is different when we both use dad/daddy?

  2. Entertaining subject. I'm curious about the Sutton Hoo mask. I need to Google that.

    1. The Sutton Hoo mask is part of the largest treasure trove ever found in Britain. Sadly most of it is kept in the British Museum rather than at the burial site itself due to security issues. Only a few pieces and replicas are at the Sutton Hoo exhibition on site - including the mask.

    2. Thanks, Pippa. Pretty amazing site. I read more about it after Googling it.

  3. In South Africa I don't think there are any formal naming rules. In Afrikaans it's definitely Mama/Papa, or the more grown-up Ma/Pa, but in English, and at least in our family, it was whatever came out. Mom, Mum, Dad, Daddy... I don't think any of us ever worried.


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