Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grandparents -

When I started learning Swedish two years ago, I learned that they make a distinction between paternal and maternal grandparents. This is not something we do in English, French, Italian or Spanish. Allow me to Illustrate

Swedish    Mormor and Morfar ( maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather)
                  Farmor and Farfar    (paternal grandmother and paternal grandfather)

Yesterday while walking with the boys, I started listening to Living Language Mandarin Chinese. I moved from Pimsleur to Living Language this week. So I started at the very beginning. They went over many words that I already knew, and then added some words that I do not know. (Remember that I always recommend using more than one language program.) I learned that the Chinese do the same thing as the Swedes. They make a distinction between paternal and maternal grandparents. 

    祖父                      gong gong                         (informal) father´s father, paternal grandfather
wài gōng
(informal) mother's father; maternal grandfather
wài pó
(informal) mother's mother; maternal grandmother

nǎi nai
(informal) father's mother; paternal grandmother

It is a delicious idea, - some cultures find it necessary to make these distinctions while others do not. Some cultures find it necessary to be specific while others do not.  If you would like to know how your target language addresses grandparents, check out this blog Name Nerds


JPGoldberg said...

Wait 'till you come across languages that distinguish between cross cousins and parallel cousins. (A parallel cousin is either the child of your mother's sister or a child of your father's brother. A cross cousin is the child of your mother's brother or of your father's sister).

There are also plenty of languages in which the word for older brother is the same as (or closely related to) the word for uncle. There is lots of work among anthropologists on what is going on with these sorts of kinship terms.



Christine said...

Korean is similar. I lived in Korea for a few years. I found out that they have words for different family members for the father's and mother's side. The different words for family members are also dependent on their age. It becomes mind-boggling.
Yet that shows the difference in culture.

Leslie Lim said...

I really like your ideas. I truly appreciate your effort in publishing this article. Keep it up and God bless.


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