“Mum”‘s the Word

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30 responses to ““Mum”‘s the Word

  1. This is from the OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE, that’s ‘stralian. And aussie speak is NOT necessarily British. I don’t think they’d even want that association. THUS if you want to key in on MUM, choose a genuine Brit source!

    • The whole point of this blog is that it should be an American source, not British or Australian: it’s about Britishisms being used in the States. And while there are of course some differences between British and Australian English, in spelling they are nearly identical. What’s more Ben doesn’t have a blog for NOOAs yet.

      Outback Steakhouses is in fact an American company of “Australian-themed restaurants”, based in Tampa, Florida, so the source is American.

      But there is the point that the use of “Mum” could be deliberately part of the theme, and so not a real borrowing into American English. But I don’t think Ben was really suggesting that, anyway.

  2. And, I’d like to point out, Canadian speak, or at least Maritime speak — occurs at all class levels.

  3. Outback Steakhouse *pretends* to be Australian. They don’t even put beetroot on their burgers.

  4. Those of us who live in the North of England say “Mam” and not “Mum”, and find it hard to procure a birthday or Mothers’ Day card that reflects our pronunciation.

    I usually have to buy a card that says “Mother”.

  5. ??????

    “Mum’s the word” is in itself a British phrase meaning “To keep secret”.

    A: “I’me placing a bet on a horse – not a word to the wife.”
    b: “Mum’s the word !” (optionally tapping nose with forefinger)

  6. JLC above is correct – “mum’s the word” is an idiomatic phrase in the UK, often used as an affirmation of keeping something secret (or just generally keeping silent on some matter). The Outback advertisement’s use of “Mum!” doesn’t mean it in this sense.

  7. They used the English spelling of mum, but the American spelling of kerbside! That’s double standards!

  8. Like a lot of idiomatic phrases and words – this might have its origins in old Hollywood movies. As you may know, many producers and writers in Hollywood were New Yorkers who grew up in the immigrant neighborhoods – where colloquial foreign phrases were used by inhabitants regardless of their own country of origin. “Shtum” is Yiddish, a derivative of the German word “Stumm” both of which mean silent. The phrase is more popular in Great Britain than in the US, ironically. Watch any cop show from the UK and someone somewhere sometime will use the phrase, usually in reference to a suspect or criminal.

  9. Well to finish up, I always used Mum and I’m Brit but now in Canada. I think finding an Americanism about “keeping Mum” would be more interesting and using an fakero-Aussie steakhouse as a source for use of Mum which their Ad Agency thought was ‘stralian is way way off base. I LOVE this discussion!

  10. Here’s a US site using mum. It’s about something that happened in the UK but if you search the web for other sites with this story, all other US sites seem to use mom; not this one.

  11. No one spotted the giveaway which shows the source is American, then?

    The date format!

    • Assuming you meant the ABC News story, no, the date is the AP house style for dates, regardless of the location of the story. The story itself originates from the UK (the reference being “High Court judge”). It’s just standard newswire practice to retain as much localised usage as possible in the story, even if the ostensible audience might be American.

  12. No, I’m referring to the date on the source-disputed Outback Steakhouses Bonus Card – dragging the thread back to its original subject, spose I should’ve said, soz.

  13. I probably should have mentioned in the post that I did a short item about “mum”–including a readers’ poll!–back in February 2011:

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