Field of Science

Strange language fact of the day

Apparently in some languages/cultures, it is common to call an infant "Mommy". Even a boy infant. I am told by reliable sources this is true of Bengali and of Tzez. Reportedly Bengladeshi immigrants try to import this into English and get weird looks at the daycare.

I am told that this is actually relatively common and appears in many languages. And there are some phenomena in English that aren't so different. You can, for instance, say the pot is boiling when you in fact mean that the water in the pot is boiling, not the pot itself. You can ask for someone's hand in marriage, even though you probably want the entire person, not just the hand. So words can sometimes stand in for other words.

It still blows my mind, though. And I'd love to hear what a Whorfian had to say about it.

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