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Unusual terms of endearment from around the world

Posted in: Family Last updated: 16 Dec 2016
Children's party

During our research on family names, we discovered how the pet names we have for our loved ones can differ depending on our location in the country.

We thought we would delve a little deeper and find out what pet names are popular around the world.

A trip to Europe

Referring to your partner as a crumb might not go down well in England, but in Finland the term "muru" (which translates to crumb) is a common term of affection.

If you pop over to France, you might hear the term "mon petit chou" used. It actually has two meanings, the first being "my little cabbage" and the second being "my little cream puff". According to language specialists Eurotalk, it's the equivalent of the term sweetheart here in the UK. 1

Travelling east

In Japan, the phrase "tomago gata no kao" is used to express the beauty of a woman, translating to "an egg with eyes". It might seem strange, but in Japanese culture an oval or egg-shaped face is seen as a sign of beauty. You can often see this in Japanese paintings.

A slightly more unusual term is "nyingdu-la", a Tibetan phrase meaning "most honoured poison of my heart".

In China, the romantic term "chen yu luo yan" means "diving fish swooping geese". It might sound nonsensical to us, but there's a wonderful story behind it.

"In China, the romantic term "chen yu luo yan" means "diving fish swooping geese". It might sound nonsensical to us, but there's a wonderful story behind it."

The phrase, now spoken whenever a Chinese person wishes to express love, is said to come from an ancient tale. Whenever Xi Shi, a beauty in China, walked past a pond the fish were so struck by her beauty they forgot to swim, sinking towards the bottom. Geese, too, flew over another beautiful woman named Wang Zhaojun and would forget to flap their wings, eventually swooping to the ground.

If the phrase is uttered, it means the beholder finds the object of their eye just as beautiful as those two ancient women.

A step into the past

If we take a step back in time and travel to the past, words such as "bully" and "honey sop" were used to address loved ones. Bully, in the mid-16th century, was related to the term "boele" which meant lover - the opposite of what it means today. Honey sop literally means a piece of bread soaked in honey. It's similar to calling a loved one sweetie pie, but it definitely doesn’t sound as appealing.

Different locations, different cultures and different families - we all have our own, personal terms of endearment we use for our loved ones, no matter where we are in the world. And don't forget, if you haven't read our post on family names in the UK, it can be found over on our hub.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.

Sources: 

1 http://eurotalk.com/blog/2015/02/13/my-little-cabbage-terms-of-endearment-from-around-the-world/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22759975
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22699938
http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/02/six-obsolete-endearments/