Even in Saudi Babies First Word Is…


Some things are simply universal.  In America the first word a young baby will typically learn to say is “da da.”  In speaking with Saudi moms and dads on what was the first word their child learned, the reply was consistently “ba ba” which is the way Dad or Daddy is said in Arabic.  Mama usually follows shortly thereafter in baby’s vocabulary but BABA or DADA get the gold star as first.

23 Responses

  1. Why dada? My guess would be mama. jeesh. sexist even in their first words!


  2. @Tanya — ahhhh, I think you’re being a bit tough. Even in the US many babies will say ‘dada’ first simply because it is more easier to say. Although my son will insist that his son (my grandbaby) learned dada first because ‘he taught him.’ (smile)

  3. Linguistic studies across cultures show that part of baby babble is b and d with m close in there. These are the easiest sounds for babies to make. That evolves to baba, dada, and mama (or variants) in a majority of languages. Harder sounds like “r” “th” and s/sh come later, and evolve to about age 6.

    Then again maybe the Dadas/Babas insist that was the first intelligible word heard! LOL 😀

  4. I can personally picture the face of every single mother in the world that carried her child…suffered the various pregnancy troubles…ached and waddled her way to 9 months…agonized through her labor pains and eventually laid there exhausted and bloody…but with a beautiful child to make it all worth it…only to be rewarded for all that suffering and angst with being relegated to second class status with the first uttered words….”ba ba” or “da da”…the little stinkers…they keep us mothers hopping from day one…and hop we do…love is unconditional…even with rebellion in the ranks….sigh.

  5. My daughters first word was mama 🙂

  6. Da, or ba, are simply this first sounds human babies can make, that’s the same all over the world.
    So it probably actually means ”mother” coolred 😉
    Just a mistranslation! 😉

  7. My all three children first word was “baba”.

  8. Coolred-LOL, rebellion for sure. Ever suffered betrayal? Any of the “little stinkers” ever raise their arms at a woman of appropriate age and appearance and say “mama”? The unkindest cut of all! 😀

    Om Lumjain-you are one of the lucky ones whose child does say mama first. 🙂

    Imran Zafar-a lucky and proud Baba! Or did you train all three with loving paternal diligence? LOL 😀

  9. Aafke…your right…wrong translation for sure. 🙂

    Chiara…Ive never had my “stinkers” do that…but I must admit Ive heard alot of Bahraini womens children call the housemaid mama…makes me sad 🙁

  10. it’s actually happens that when someone takes care of you to call them mom, not neccessarily just the maid. Sometimes kids call one of their aunts mom too. The maid used to call my mom mama. Also, baba can mean your uncle at times. depending on the kid’s & mom’s atittude.

  11. Coolred-I’ve had other mamas’ children do it to me in front of the poor mama. My Canadian nephew when very little tried out “Mummy” on me as a wheedle-didn’t work. Nor did Chiiiiiiaaaaaarrrrrreeeeee with long beautiful eyelashes batting furiously over the big baby blues! I am a rock! LOL 🙂

    Daifuku- good points. My Moroccan niece called her primary caregiver, her grandmother, “mée” (Moroccan for mama), and her mother “Mama Samira”-and hit the aunt (not me) who tried to correct her. Don’t get between a toddler and her “Mée”! 😀
    My GP’s children saw so little of her during her internship they started calling her “Daddy”. Ouch! 🙂

  12. It’s quite common for young children to call their grandmothers mama (or “yooma”), because they often spend a lot of time caring for them.

  13. @Coolred – I’ve also observed many housemaids calling the husband and wife of the family they work for as mama and baba too.

  14. @American bedu – I meant all babies, not just Saudi ones, since you did write that Americans also say dada first 🙂

    …. on the other hand, my little nephew couldn’t pronounce Mummy, so for the longest time, he always called my sister “Me” That was so cute and probably somewhat freudian 😉

  15. First word of both of my children (father is Saudi) were MAMA! They know who is the most importand! Hehe.

  16. Both mine said “Amma/ma” ( mom) first “appa” ( dad) came much later 🙂

  17. American Bedu…thats right. I always find it a bit strange considering quite often the housemaid is sometimes much older than the “mama and baba”…lol.

  18. @Umm Latifa – Mabrook habibiti!! (smile)

  19. […] Another decent blogger placed an interesting blog post on Even in Saudi Babies First Word IsHere’s a brief overview […]

  20. My son said “la” and “aji” – “no” and “come”… in Arabic when our native language is English.

  21. @ben shettah….is it aji or eeji? well then, my first word was mama 🙂 and then lola (grandmom) and then lolo (grand dad) and then baba… lolz how frustrated he was….well for me its always ladies first! 😉

  22. Welcome Sarah!

    How cute!!!

  23. hehehe, he was the one who thought me how to talk at a very early age, ppl used to ask him if i had growth problems coz i was talking n i was so little….so it realy ticked him of after i said his name last…. 😉

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