Here’s Why Your Mushy Pet-Names Usually Start With a?‘B’

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Science says there’s a reason all your pet-names start with a ‘B’ [Photo: Rex Features]

Quick poll: What’s your pet name for your other half/little one/bestie? Babe, baby, bubba, bud, bubs? Notice anything? Yep, they all start with a B. Heck, even the Duchess of Cambridge let slip earlier this week that she calls Wills babe.

But turns out, like so many of life’s little mysteries, that there’s a totally legit scientific explanation behind it. Good Housekeeping spoke to Frank Nuessel, a professor at the University of Louisville and expert in the science of naming, to find out where our love of a good ole B pet-name actually stems from. Apparently it’s all to do with the way we learn language.

“There’s a natural order of the acquisition of the sounds of language,” he says. “First comes the vowel ahh. It requires no tongue movement. Then, in?terms of consonants, you get what we call ‘bilabial’ sounds. You only put your lips together.”

‘He called me?‘babe’’ *sighs* [Photo: Rex Features]

And when you’re an ickle baba (that B again) only capable of that easy lip movement the letters you’re able to try out are B, M and P. Hence, mama, papa and baba.

With us so far? Here comes the science bit. As a result of those sounds being the first we use, usually in relation to our parents, we associate ‘b’, ‘m’, and ‘p’ words with a source of comfort and love. And that connection stays with us into adulthood.

“When parents, and usually?it’s the?mother who interacts the most, tries to teach the baby?language, they use the terms of the child: mama, papa, baba,” explains Nuessel. “Then the adults transfer the language?to other adults or?significant others in their life, and?they use those as terms of endearment.”

Don’t beat yourself up about those cringe terms of endearment. Science says its not your fault [Photo: Rex Features]

And even if you’re not a parent, you’ll have picked up on that same terminology from your?own childhood, subconsciously thinking of these sounds as a way of showing affection.

So next time you inwardly *cringe* at calling your other half bubba in public, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not your fault, science made you do it.

What’s your pet-name for your partner? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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