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Thread: Indian term of endearment

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  1. #5
    professional dilettante Lakey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    New England
    Interesting what Siri says about jaanu in Punjabi (Gurmukhi is a script, not a language; you can’t really say something “in Gurmukhi”). I had not heard that before. But there is a TON of regional variation — not just variation in languages, but variations in borrowings from languages — so for instance Hindi speakers in Delhi are heavily influenced by Punjabi while those in Mumbai have some influence from Marathi. The usages I am talking about are very general among speakers of Hindi and Urdu but there will of course be other usages. There are always many ways to address someone! And again, I emphasize that I am not a native speaker.

    The only use of jaanu I know is an intimate one — I don’t think Hindi speakers would use it for a stranger, the way you would use yaar (as I described above). Hindi speakers do use “ji” as Siri described — roughly the way English speakers use Mr or Ms or Sir or Ma’am. For instance I called one of my teachers Naseem ji; my friend calls my mother Aunty ji. (“Saab” is another word used in a similar way.)

    “Meri jaan” literally means “my life,” but as I said above it’s used the way English speakers use (or at least once used) “darling” — a term of endearment for someone very close to you, a lover, an intimate friend, a child. “Jaanu” is a diminutive form of it — thus even more intimate. One wouldn’t use it with a stranger.

    With a stranger, more formal than the rather familiar “yaar”, one might use “bhai” (brother) or “bhai saab,” or “uncle” or “aunty” if you’re addressing someone older than you are. Like “ji” and “saab,” if you are also using a name, these come after the name.

    Last edited by Lakey; 06-30-2020 at 03:13 PM.
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