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Yes but then we might expect that in some languages "mama" and "papa" are reversed. What is surprising is not just that these simple words seem to be preserved but that they mean the same thing.



I think "ma" generally comes first in baby's lexicon, and historically the gestational parent has been the primary caretaker (and the gestational parent in most cases has the identity "mother"), so it's no surprise that the "ma" sound is associated with mother.




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