Is Mam slowly becoming a substitute for Ma'am as a lot of people don't know the difference between the two.

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    Can you please be more specific? Mam, except in Ireland (I think) where it could stand for "mum", and Ma'am are not commonly used in the UK. Ma'am is a more commonly heard in the Southern States of the US. Could you please say what the difference is between them, and which English dialect you are referring to. Maybe you're talking about Indian English? Thanks. – Mari-Lou A Feb 21 '18 at 14:27
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    You've seen it where? Written by whom? How do you know that a lot of people don't know the difference? You need to supply evidence and a couple of citations. – Mari-Lou A Feb 21 '18 at 14:45
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    There are two separate issues here - pronunciation and orthography. In practice, most people today (certainly, in the UK) use the same "short A" pronunciation for the honorific (contracted Madam) as the regional / dialectal diminutive (Mam = Mum = Mother). Using the "long A" (pronounced Marm, Mahm) is generally perceived as a dated "pseudo-formal" affectation (such as might have been used by butlers and other house servants in a bygone age). – FumbleFingers Feb 21 '18 at 14:50
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    That's interesting. Are you sure Ma'am is pronounced in the same way as 'farm'? Coz I've never heard it being pronounced in that way(even in the dictionary as well). If this was the case then we Indians have been using the wrong word while greeting the teachers everyday in class because the way we pronounced Ma'am was similar to 'Dam' – Vishal Sharma Feb 21 '18 at 15:07
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    @FumbleFingers This is the problem inherent to calling sounds short-this and long-that when those terms map to utterly different sounds depending on who says it. I'd rather use IPA: ma’am is /mæm/ with the TRAP vowel from ham; the verb maim is /meɪm/ with the FACE vowel; (chrysanthe)mum is /mʌm/ with the STRUT vowel like in run or unstressed in about; and Khan is /kɑn/ whether Kubla or Genghis. Most but not all Americans have Mom as /mɑm/ and so like Khannot /mɔm/ as in wrong or cloth or thought or palm. – tchrist Feb 21 '18 at 15:21

Ma'am is used in UK in the armed forces and the police when a junior addresses a female superior officer. It is also used to address Her Majesty the Queen.

Mam is used for "mum" in Yorkshire (see Alan Bennett's diaries, for example).

To answer the direct question: I have seen no evidence of Mam replacing Ma'am, nor, until seeing this Question, had I heard of such a possibility.

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    In most US dialects, Mam and Ma'am would be said exactly the same way (rhyming with Sam, ham, lamb). I suspect even non-rhotic US speakers would say both more-or-less this way, without sticking an r sound in. On the other hand, reading that Mam and Mum have the same pronunciation is completely bumfuzzling. – 1006a Feb 21 '18 at 15:05
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    @FumbleFingers Montague-Smith (Ed.),Debrett's Correct Form, Kelly's Directories 1971: "Verbal Address. 'Your Majesty' for the first time. Subsequently 'Ma'am'. This should always rhyme with Pam. Pronunciation to rhyme with Palm is never used, nor has this been so for some generations." – JeremyC Feb 21 '18 at 15:40
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    @JeremyC : It turns out my link is the official Palace site. And I see that elsewhere on the site they say On presentation to The Queen, the correct formal address is 'Your Majesty' and subsequently 'Ma'am,' pronounced with a short 'a,' as in 'jam'. So in the end I guess they do have an opinion - it's just not a matter of requirement. I seem to recall this being exploited for humour in the movie The Queen, where Tony Blair supposedly needed to be coached on how to address HM. – FumbleFingers Feb 21 '18 at 15:58
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    I may be conflating different dialectal features, but to me mam, ma’am, and marm are all distinct. Mam (meaning ‘mother’) has a short open front vowel: [mam]. Ma’am (a courteous form of address to any woman) rhymes with ham, having a semi-long open or mid-open front vowel: [maˑm ~ mæˑm]. Marm (a form of address to a female superior in the police or armed forces, as well as to the Queen, royal recommendations notwithstanding) rhymes with palm, having a long open, unrounded back vowel: [mɑːm]. They are three distinct words to me, though I’d not usually write marm. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 21 '18 at 16:27
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    @JeremyC I don’t really associate with any of them—I should perhaps have been more specific and said that marm, apart from being what I’d call the Queen if I ever met her and forgot that I’m supposed to call her ma’am, is a form of address to female superiors in the police or armed forces in the tv shows which represent the only place I’ve ever actually encountered police/armed force employees addressing female superiors. In this Lewis episode (33:50), for example. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 21 '18 at 16:39

"Ma'am" could be substituted for Miss or Missus if you were talking to a teacher/lecturer, whereas "Mam" is an informal and extremely casual way of saying mother.

"Mam" is commonly shortened to "Ma" in Ireland for referring to a mother, whereas "Ma'am" would never be used in any context here.

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