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View Full Version : Words for 'Mom' and 'Dad' (edit: still need South Africa)



Faye-M
10-18-2014, 07:45 PM
In English-speaking countries, the names we call our parents vary depending on our age, region, formality, and cultural background - babies start out with 'Mama' and 'Dada', progress to 'Mummy/Mommy' and 'Daddy', and eventually end up with 'Mum/Mom' and 'Dad' or 'Mother' and 'Father' or 'Ma' and 'Pa', etc. I'm guessing it's the same with other languages and cultures, and since I have quite a multicultural cast of characters in my novel, I thought I should make sure I'm getting this small but important detail right.

1. What would a young boy (6 or 7) from China call his mother (the equivalent of Mommy)? Written in the English alphabet, please. I know there are many different dialects in China, but is there a standard?

2. What would a teenage boy in Germany call his mother and father? (The equivalent of Mom and Dad)

3. What would a teenage black girl in South Africa call her mother and father? (=Mom and Dad)

4. What would a young child in Puerto Rico call their father? (=Daddy)

Thanks!

Lauram6123
10-18-2014, 08:40 PM
1. What would a young boy (6 or 7) from China call his mother (the equivalent of Mommy)? Written in the English alphabet, please. I know there are many different dialects in China, but is there a standard?


Thanks!

I just asked my Chinese exchange student. (He's from Northern China.) He says little boys would call their mothers Mama. (That's the translation)
Also, in some provinces children use Lao ma.

Faye-M
10-18-2014, 08:51 PM
I just asked my Chinese exchange student. (He's from Northern China.) He says little boys would call their mothers Mama. (That's the translation)
Also, in some provinces children use Lao ma.

Thank you both so much! :)

asroc
10-18-2014, 10:02 PM
2. What would a teenage boy in Germany call his mother and father? (The equivalent of Mom and Dad) Mama and Papa, I believe. Or Mutti and Vati.

snafu1056
10-19-2014, 09:41 AM
Here's a full chart of Chinese familial titles in several dialects if you ever need it. There are differences between formal and informal titles. A kid would probably use informal.

http://www.omniglot.com/language/kinship/chinese.htm

Faye-M
10-19-2014, 07:24 PM
Mama and Papa, I believe. Or Mutti and Vati.

Mutti is different, I might go with that. Thanks!

Faye-M
10-19-2014, 07:25 PM
Here's a full chart of Chinese familial titles in several dialects if you ever need it. There are differences between formal and informal titles. A kid would probably use informal.

http://www.omniglot.com/language/kinship/chinese.htm

That's very helpful, thanks!

Debbie V
10-21-2014, 02:18 AM
I think the Puerto Rican child would say Papa. It may need an accent. Without the accent it means potato in some countries. It's been a long time since I've spoken to a Puerto Rican though.

Deb Kinnard
10-21-2014, 02:51 AM
In Spanish a very young child will say Papi. My dad, who spoke German at home, called his parents Mutti and Vati when young.

HTH

Faye-M
10-21-2014, 03:56 AM
Yes, I wasn't sure which was right for a Puerto Rican child - Papa or Papi. I know Papi is thrown around a lot between grown men there.

Deb Kinnard
10-22-2014, 05:35 PM
That's true, as slang. But I've heard Hispanic children from pretty much everywhere de habla hispana use "Papi" informally for their fathers. I equate it with "Daddy" in English--something the child eventually outgrows unless they use it for effect.

Faye-M
10-22-2014, 07:08 PM
That's true, as slang. But I've heard Hispanic children from pretty much everywhere de habla hispana use "Papi" informally for their fathers. I equate it with "Daddy" in English--something the child eventually outgrows unless they use it for effect.

Thanks, I'll go with Papi then. :)

Faye-M
10-22-2014, 07:11 PM
Does anyone know any Afrikaans? (I'm assuming that would/could be the cultural background of a black South African?) Would a teenage girl call her father "Pappa" or "Pa"?

Deb Kinnard
10-22-2014, 11:51 PM
I'll yield to better knowledge, but I believe Afrikaans was and is spoken more by white South Africans than black citizens of that country.

Faye-M
10-23-2014, 12:24 AM
I'll yield to better knowledge, but I believe Afrikaans was and is spoken more by white South Africans than black citizens of that country.

This is what Wikipedia told me - "The term "coloured" is still used for the people of mixed race descended from slaves brought in from East and Central Africa, the indigenous Khoisan who lived in the Cape at the time, Bantus, Whites (mostly the Dutch/Afrikaner and British settlers) as well as an admixture of Javanese, Malay, Indian, Malagasy and Asian blood. The majority speak Afrikaans."

I should have been using the term "coloured," I guess, but I haven't fully decided this character's background, just that she has dark skin and is from South Africa. I assumed that she would use Afrikaans terms, but I'm open to changing that if anyone has a different idea?

JustLooking
10-26-2014, 11:35 AM
Mutti is different, I might go with that. Thanks!

You might be safer with Mama and Papa. If I were to hear a teenage lad calling his parents Mutti and Vati I'd think he was being facetious. It sounds a bit twee to me.

You also sometimes hear German teens use Mum and Dad (yes, in English. Perhaps Mum more commonly than Dad) and in some families they call their parents by their first names.

Have you tried asking in the International District? You're likely to meet native speakers of all your languages there :)

Faye-M
10-26-2014, 06:16 PM
You might be safer with Mama and Papa. If I were to hear a teenage lad calling his parents Mutti and Vati I'd think he was being facetious. It sounds a bit twee to me.

You also sometimes hear German teens use Mum and Dad (yes, in English. Perhaps Mum more commonly than Dad) and in some families they call their parents by their first names.

Have you tried asking in the International District? You're likely to meet native speakers of all your languages there :)

Thanks, that's exactly the kind of information I need! :)

Can we ask questions in there? I might try that, thanks!

Maxx B
10-28-2014, 03:28 PM
Where does your South African teen come from? Does she speak Tswana, Zulu, Sesotho, Sotho, Ndebele, Siswati (Swati), Tsonga, Venda or Xhosa? There are 11 languages included in the new constitution so it would help if you had a bit more background for her. Each language has a slightly different word, mama, umama or mme for mum and ntata, ubaba or tata for dad, are just a few for example. So you can see it's not as simple as a 'South African' term'. Most kids learn English in school so you could play it safe and use the English terms, but I'd pick a region for her to come from as it would open up a rich cultural background to draw from, over a generic South African.

I lived over there for 10 years and am by no means an expert, but would suggest doing a little research into the different cultures in SA as it would help ad realism to your character.

Faye-M
10-28-2014, 06:35 PM
Where does your South African teen come from? Does she speak Tswana, Zulu, Sesotho, Sotho, Ndebele, Siswati (Swati), Tsonga, Venda or Xhosa? There are 11 languages included in the new constitution so it would help if you had a bit more background for her. Each language has a slightly different word, mama, umama or mme for mum and ntata, ubaba or tata for dad, are just a few for example. So you can see it's not as simple as a 'South African' term'. Most kids learn English in school so you could play it safe and use the English terms, but I'd pick a region for her to come from as it would open up a rich cultural background to draw from, over a generic South African.

I lived over there for 10 years and am by no means an expert, but would suggest doing a little research into the different cultures in SA as it would help ad realism to your character.

Thanks, I'll do that. Is there a region/language that you would recommend?