In South Africa, what does the female title "mma" stand for?
I was researching this because Mma Ramotswe is the main character of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Botswana. I found a delightful forum on Mma (also discussing these delightful books) at http://www.africaguide.com/forums/read.php?7,104
One of the best entries, by "Anonymous User" says, "I too have been searching for the answer to this. I finally discovered that there are soundclips of various phrases in Setswana at www.gov.bw/tourism/culture_and_his/language.html including "Dumela, mma" and "Dumela, rra" (which is "Hello" to a woman and a man respectively). There "Mma" sounds like "map" without the "p" -- ie, the "a" is very short. I had assumed it was an abbreviation of "Madam" but it seems it is just a word in its own right like our "Mrs".
Vicky R. Benson
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