Brummies miffed at lack of ‘Mom’ greeting cards for Mother’s Day
Brummies can be a proud bunch. While it may not always be clear for outsiders to see what Brum natives could be proud of, the locals can get pretty passionate about aspects of Birmingham history and heritage.
Somewhere within the sometimes rightfully warranted and sometimes misplaced love of things such as Ozzy Osbourne, the Library of Birmingham, Barbara Cartland, brutalism and the Spaghetti Junction is a passionate defence of Brum-speak.
When it comes to the Brummie dialect, a war of words (pun intended) is often had over traditional terminology and expression, etymology and the erosion of historic phrases belonging to the city and region.
None more so than the word ‘Mom’, a spelling often associated with the popular American spelling of ‘Mum’, but which historically has been used in Birmingham since before the First World War, according to city language expert Professor Carl Chinn:
“I have memoriams from the local papers in Birmingham which show the term mom being used in the West Midlands prior to people being influenced by talkies.
“In this area people have been replacing the ‘a’ with an ‘o’ since the ancient medieval times. We see in documents the words ‘hond’ and ‘lond’ instead of ‘hand’ and ‘land’.”
Despite this, it appears Birmingham stores are dominated with Mother’s Day cards and gifts bearing the “mum” spelling, used across most of the UK.
Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Philips uses the term ‘Mom’ and has even insisted that Hansard notes of her speeches at the House of Commons record her saying ‘Mom’ not ‘Mum’ when she mentions the word.
She previously told the BBC’s Daily Politics show: “I’ve had the same thing changed on two different occasions. Because I’m from Birmingham, and when I say the word mom, if I talk about my mom or if I talk about being a mom in the House of Commons, they always write it “mum”. I am from Birmingham and we spell it “mom”.”
With the Brummie spelling being so popular, many have taken to social media to express their annoyance at not being able to find greeting cards with their preferred spelling of the word used to affectionately address their mothers.
Shannon Harewood-Malone wrote: “Every year! So annoying. Always tend to do for personalised ones or make my own, sentimentality and all that.”
According to Dawn Smith, “My kids call me ‘Mom’ but I prefer ‘Mum’. I’m from Shropshire, which is in the Midlands. Incidentally I tell my kids not to fund capitalist coffers by buying over-priced cards or presents for me.”
Charlotte Burton added, “Definitely a black country thing tho, I say mom. I get told off if I use mum!”
It's Mother's Day on Sunday.
Do you write and pronounce it as 'mom' or 'mum'?
— I Am Birmingham (@IAmBirmingham) March 9, 2018
An I Am Birmingham poll on Twitter found that the vast majority of Birmingham respondents used the “Mom” spelling, followed by “Mum” and some using both words interchangeably.
While many customers from Birmingham and the West Midlands have expressed frustration at the lack of “mom” cards in gift stores, companies including Paperchase and Clintons have said they do include “Mom” and “Mam” variations in their Mother’s Day ranges in larger stores.
Mothers Day is on Sunday 11 March.