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Thread: How to call parents in medieval times?

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    The Man from Eastern Europe Radzeer's Avatar
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    How to call parents in medieval times?

    I am trying to figure out how a child (under 14) would call his/her parents in medieval times (12th - 15th century) when speaking to them. Anybody has any idea? My story takes place in Russia (if that makes any difference).
    Obviously not "mom" and "dad", but I'm not sure if "mother" or "father" would have been used.
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  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW Sunflowerrei's Avatar
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    I think it would be: Mother, Father. Sir, Madam. My lord, my lady. In formal situations with other adults, the children might have used their parents' titles, if they had any. It depends on the family. Usually, the richer the family was, the children were more likely to be cared for by nannies.
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    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Depends of the class / status of the family. Poor and uneducated families might not speak formal or proper language.

    A peasants son or daughter might just call his mother and father ma and pa. While a nobleman's children may refer to their parents as mother and father.
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    practical experience, FTW benbenberi's Avatar
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    What are the Russian equivalents of mom/mum & dad?

    (Mom/mum/ma/mama and dad/pa/papa are very, very old words that were certainly in use in medieval times, so don't just rule them out because they're also used today. Social class, the level of formality, and the age of the children are important considerations, however. An older child in a noble family, esp. one who is being raised mostly by servants or by a foster-family, might well call their parents "my lord" and "my lady," while a very young peasant child would almost certainly use the local version of mom and dad.)

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    The Man from Eastern Europe Radzeer's Avatar
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    Thank you for the good points!

    @ beriberi: I was just thinking that mom and dad sound too modern, so while they may have been used in the medieval times it would still give readers some weird feelings.
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    Fantastic historian Anne Lyle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radzeer View Post
    @ beriberi: I was just thinking that mom and dad sound too modern, so while they may have been used in the medieval times it would still give readers some weird feelings.
    I have the same problem with my Elizabethan-set fantasy - the appellations "mama" and "papa" (with the stress on the final syllable) didn't come into use in England until the 17th/18th century. In the period I'm writing, "mamma" and "daddy" seem to be the correct informal versions, but the latter sounds so modern! So, I have older children use "mother" and "father" and reserve the informal versions for very young children.
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    (Insert something whitty here) BySharonNelson's Avatar
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    I think this may be more complicated that just ma or da. This page on the Russian familial terms has a good list but it looks like it is entirely dependent on the relationship. http://www.doukhobor.org/Terms-Familial.htm Also on Yahoo answers http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...8093838AA19sxB there is a good list but you will probably need to have them translated into English It may be a good idea to ask a Russian speaking person?? IMHO when I am reading a book set in a different culture it throws me off when they are calling their parents mom and dad or mother and father as I know that mostly only English speaking cultures would use such words.
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    never mind the shorty angeliz2k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BySharonNelson View Post
    I think this may be more complicated that just ma or da. This page on the Russian familial terms has a good list but it looks like it is entirely dependent on the relationship. http://www.doukhobor.org/Terms-Familial.htm Also on Yahoo answers http://answers.yahoo.com/question/in...8093838AA19sxB there is a good list but you will probably need to have them translated into English It may be a good idea to ask a Russian speaking person?? IMHO when I am reading a book set in a different culture it throws me off when they are calling their parents mom and dad or mother and father as I know that mostly only English speaking cultures would use such words.
    But there is only one word for father and one word (and a shorter version) for mother. In this case, since the words probably won't be familiar to English-speaking readers, it seems preferable to stick with English equivalents.

    This often becomes a problem in historical fiction. Obviously, everything is being "translated" into modern English. The question isn't "what term was used", because the correct term probably wouldn't be familiar to the reader. The question is "what term is the most evocative/appropriate". I'd say mama/papa for young children, and mother/father or even my lord father/my lady mother for older children
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    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    They could always use the Latin, Mater and Pater.

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Miller Robert's Avatar
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    I advice you to read a useful book about childhood in Medieval ages - Aries P. Centuries of Childhood a Social History of Family Life (1962).
    There is some information about this book http://www.representingchildhood.pitt.edu/pdf/aries.pdf
    Last edited by Miller Robert; 12-04-2012 at 07:47 PM.
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    The Man from Eastern Europe Radzeer's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the additional resources!
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  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Miller Robert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Radzeer View Post
    I am trying to figure out how a child (under 14) would call his/her parents in medieval times (12th - 15th century) when speaking to them. Anybody has any idea? My story takes place in Russia (if that makes any difference).
    Obviously not "mom" and "dad", but I'm not sure if "mother" or "father" would have been used.
    What part of Russia (which principality)?
    Nulla est doctrina sine lingua Latina

  13. #13
    The Man from Eastern Europe Radzeer's Avatar
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    Sorry for the late response, I've been away for some time. It is Chernigov in the early 13th century.
    The boots belonged to Stalin.

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