I began drafting this post around Mother's Day, which we recently observed, but got distracted by other things. This is an old topic that I've been thinking about for years. Namely, I've long been intrigued by the use of mǔ 母 ("mother") in linguistic terms, such as zìmǔ 字母 ("letter", lit., "character mother") (e.g., sānshíliù zìmǔ 三十六字母 ["36 initial consonants"]), shēngmǔ 声母 ("initial", lit., "sound mother") and yùnmǔ 韵母 ("final", lit., "rime mother"). The first two go back to the Song period (960-1279), but I don't know how old the latter two are. See here, here, and here for references.
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