1. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92

    How should I write Ma'am

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Elgaisma, Aug 25, 2010.

    I think I know I will end up writing it Ma'am.

    However I like the idea of making it clear it is to rhyme with Jam and not Farm or Chum.

    In a sentence where sir would usually be used would it be clear enough if I write mam. I mean Ma'am and not a form of Mummy.

    Example when talking to a teacher:

    'Good morning Mam.' or will it have to be 'Good morning Ma'am'

    Would the fact its a different culture/country affect whether I could get away with it. Just I hate the way Marm sounds lol
     
  2. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Spell it ma'am, but make some pun or comment at the first instance to let the reader know the pronunciation?
     
  3. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    That was my thought but I can't make it work the first time I use it. I think I'll have to swallow it and allow my readers the freedom just on this one don't want to give them it lol I hate the Marm pronunciation with a passion. Madam is too kinky in the situation and the other options too french lol maybe I can make something up.
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Spell it ma'am. If the pronuciation matters, then let someone snicker about "ma'amaries", or comment on the rhyme with spam or ham or lamb.
     
  5. stubeard
    Offline

    stubeard Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2010
    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England
    I don't think you can really tell a reader how to pronounce a well-known word. If you try a pun or a rhyme, and the reader only ever knows ma'am to rhyme with "farm", the pun will look silly.

    That is, unless you want it to be part of the story. Perhaps a character who is a bit bolshey could pronounce it wrong on purpose, while the ma'am in question constantly corrects her/him.

    But if you hate the Marm pronounciation with a passion, don't use the word.
     
  6. w176
    Offline

    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Messages:
    1,067
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    LuleƄ, Sweden
    The first way you use it, explain how it sounds.

    "Ma'am" he said like people around here did. The way they said it around here made it rhymed with Jam, rather then Chum or Farm. etc...
     
  7. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    I would love to use an alternative but cannot find one that doesn't seem a bit kinky given the character its being used with or incredibly French which jars with the rest of my book.

    I like your idea of having one of them being sarky, just not sure it or the humour will work in the particular scene.

    I just prefer the idea of the pronunication used for Queen Elizabeth II rather than the lower class pronunciation of Marm.

    This is my first real test with my first person lol I suppose if its all I need to deal with after 70,000 words its not bad:)
     
  8. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i don't see the problem... to me, 'ma'am' is pronounced the way it's spelled... 'mam'... how the written word could be pronounced any other way is beyond me... if the person using it in the story says 'marm' or 'mum' it would simply be spelled that way, not as 'ma'am'...
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I've heard it pronounced as "Mum" in films and TV shows produced in the UK, almost like the vowels are completely subsumed.
     
  10. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    its used differently in different situations within the UK, and again within the different dialects etc I'm just going to swallow it and pretend my readers are all pronouncing it the way I want it done.

    mum/marm tends to be a police inspector and the armed forces although it should mam don't seem to object to marm. Then it would have been marm for a schoolmistress etc
     
  11. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    It should always be pronounced 'mam' in fact e.g. the Queen is always addressed as 'mam' (spelt ma'am) by her staff, never 'marm'. It's only programmes like Upstairs, Downstairs etc that all of a sudden introduced the other, incorrect pronunciation.
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    What should be and what actually happens are two completely different things lol:) The Queen is always mam but generally senior officers in a variety of services are flexible. Growing up arround senior police officers mum was closer to the pronunciation I remember. Most had been policemen since the 1940s but I guess senior female police officers weren't around much before the 70s,
     
  13. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    ^ That's true! Isn't 'mum' more common in the north of England, though, for female officers? Servants and police etc who are trained are usually told what to say, I think. Female officers in the British Army are never, ever, 'mum'!
     
  14. Elgaisma
    Offline

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    5,337
    Likes Received:
    92
    no but I know senior armed forces officers will accept Marm or Mam, my police officers are all Northern I think lol they used to I am very out of date accept all three, mum, marm, mam.

    And my Gran amd her sisers were old enough to refer to teachers as schoolmarms not very often lol only when they slipped back. It maybe because of the Irish backgrounds as well because my Gran and her siblings called their Mother, Mam.

    Its just I am at that stage of tidying up the whole text and for some reason it bugs me that a reader may think mum or marm instead of mam lol need to let go of it.
     

Share This Page