The Word Mother

Mother is one of the 23 oldest words in all languages. In effect, it might be the oldest, and certainly the most essential.

Mother and Child, 1921. Pablo Picasso.

According to The Oxford Dictionary, ‘mother’ comes from the Old English mōdor, from the Old Germanic moder, and from the Indo-European root mehter, shared also by the Latin mater and Greek mētēr. Indo-European is a reconstructed language, origin for many modern languages.

Form the Indo-European mether came the Albanian motër (“sister”), Tocharian mācer, Lithuanian mótė, Russian мать (matʹ), Ancient Greek μήτηρ (mḗtēr), Armenian մայր (mayr), Persian مادر (mâdar), Sanskrit मातृ (mātṛ), and the baby-talk ma.

Of course, mother and love are interconnected. Here is a strophe form the poem Love by Pablo Neruda, a strophe today I appropriate to evoke my mother, and, through her, celebrate all mothers:

So many days, oh so many days / seeing you so tangible and so close, / how do I pay, with what do I pay?

I lost my mother, but motherhood continues to enrich me through my wife, my sisters, my friends… Happy Mother’s Day!