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Building on from this comment,

It is possible that in English, a mother may opt to refer to herself in the third person: using "Your mother" instead of "I" to create emphasis.

It is observed from the comment that お母さん is a common way for mothers to refer to themselves regardless of the fact that she is irritated or not.

What strategies are available in Japanese to achieve the same effect? Can changing the term of self-address cause the desired effect?

Possible Situations (please include other situations if you find them relevant):

If the mother typically refers to herself using:

  1. お母さん
  2. ママ
  3. わたし

We cannot change from お母さん to お母さん so there is no effect there. So what are the other options (if possible/applicable)?

Does changing from ママ to お母さん express displeasure/irritation?

Does changing from わたし to お母さん express displeasure/irritation?

Is it possible for the person convey a stand-offish or confrontational nuance by using a different self-address term from the one typically used by that person?

  • Are we to assume that the mother is talking about herself to her kids? Or to her husband, other kids, friends etc. I ask because a mother can refer to herself as お母さん or ママ when not talking to her own kids depending on who she is talking to and in what situation. Also I have noticed all the terms you describe used when the person is not irritated, so perhaps looking more into the tone of voice (an angry voice referring to themselves as お母さん would be pretty obvious to notice that she was angry / irritated compared to speaking normally) rather than some exact word that would express this. – The Wandering Coder Dec 8 '15 at 0:16
  • @TheWanderingCoder Yes to her children, but not limited to kids (young) but also children that've grown up. I'm aware that the terms of self address themselves do not convey irritation; I'm asking if changing from one to another would. – Flaw Dec 8 '15 at 9:54
  • I know some mothers that use all 3 to refer to themselves when talking to both other people and their own children. So merely changing one for the other wouldn't convey irritation in most instances without the addition of body language and voice tone. Of the times I can think of them being angry, they mostly use ママ or お母さん in the case of young kids and 私 with older kids. However they don't change the words they normal refer to themselves as when they are angry, just the tone they speak with. – The Wandering Coder Dec 9 '15 at 0:46
  • Wait, do people do that in English? Maybe with young children ("Mommy is very disappointed in you", but then "Mommy is proud of you" sounds fine to me too - I don't think there's inherently a confrontational nuance there), but even in that context, "your mother" as a term of self-address sounds weird as heck to my AmE ears. – senshin Dec 9 '15 at 5:58
  • @senshin Generally "your mother" could sound strange, but I can think of situations where it would work. Suppose someone told the kids that they could go to the park or something like that, "I am your mother, and I told you not to go." That would be somewhat confrontational. But similarly you could imagine someone told the kids they weren't to do something, and the mom could reply, "Well, I'm your mother, and I said it's OK." So, it could either way. Regardless, I think it might only be used in situations of re-establishing who's the real authority in the kids' life. – A.Ellett Feb 13 '16 at 3:21
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"It is possible that in English, a mother may opt to refer to herself in the third person: using "Your mother" instead of "I" to create emphasis."

I know very little about the English language, but if this statement were accurate, then I must say that it would be the complete opposite in the Japanese-speaking world.

I could not say that I have ever seen or heard of a mother who, in natural settings, addresses herself as 「わたし」, 「あたし」, etc. when speaking to her own young child. Here, I am talking about "normal" situations where the mother is neither frustrated nor dissatisfied. (It should also be noted that once the kids reach a certain adult-like age, the mothers often switch to using the "real dictionary pronouns" such as 「わたし」.)

"What strategies are available in Japanese to achieve the same effect? Can changing the term of self-address cause the desired effect? "

I may have answered this question indirectly when I stated that it was the opposite in Japanese a minute ago, but here is what happens.

When unusually frustrated or angry, the mother may opt to use 「わたし」、「あたし」, etc. to refer to herself with her young child. For those still unfamiliar, those are NOT the words that mothers use to refer to themselves with their young kids. Instead, they use 「おかあさん」、「ママ」、「かあちゃん」, etc. as if those were first-person pronouns.

If the mother used 「わたし」、「あたし」, etc., the kid would immediately sense that his/her mom was angry, upset, etc. because it is so obvious if the mom is using a different word as a pronoun. There is that "tense" feeling involved in the word choice. The mother also knows that the switch would work in her favor in making the kid listen up.

"We cannot change from お母さん to お母さん so there is no effect there. So what are the other options (if possible/applicable)?"

As I stated, the effective change is from the pseudo-pronoun to the dictionary pronoun.

"Does changing from ママ to お母さん express displeasure/irritation?"

I doubt that very much as a Japanese-speaker. I just cannot imagine a native-speaking mother doing the switch. The idea sounds highly unnatural to me.

(It is true that many of the kids who grew up addressing their moms as 「ママ」 often start addressing them as 「お母さん」 in public, if not at home, around the time they enter junior high or high schools because they feel like they could look childish addressing their moms as 「ママ」 in front of their peers. But it is not something the mother does herself.)

"Does changing from わたし to お母さん express displeasure/irritation?"

As I have explained (I hope), that change is impossible, and only the opposite is possible. You DO NOT start with 「わたし」 with your baby in the first place.

"Is it possible for the person convey a stand-offish or confrontational nuance by using a different self-address term from the one typically used by that person?"

In a mother-to-child relationship, I hope I have explained the basics above. It is the same with a father-to-child relationship. The key is the pseudo-to-real pronoun switch.

In other relationships, switches do occur as well. ぼく to おれ, ぼく to わたし, etc.

I need to mention the 先生 to おれ switch, too, before I forget because that would be unique to Japanese as well. In elementary and junior high schools, teachers commonly refer to themselves as 「[先生]{せんせい}」 instead of using a pronoun. When they get very angry, they often switch to おれ (and わたし in the case of female teachers).

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You can express it by changing お母さん / ママ to わたし or addressing the child as あなた / 彼・彼女(when talking to someone else). If she usually uses わたし, changing it to indecently formal わたくし may work.

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    わたくし is formal and would not express anger to young kids but may imply it to older kids (you may want to mention that). Also, calling your kid 彼/彼女 would not make sense as you would sound like you are refiring to somehow else (think calling your child he/she). – The Wandering Coder Dec 9 '15 at 0:39

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