My husband’s brother’s wife’s uncle!

I’ve treated myself to a bit of a cultural education this week.

Now I’ve always known that in Punjabi, we have specific names for different relations, so, with one word we can convey exactly how someone is related to us, more or less.
In English, if I said Aunty, you would need to ask how, so I’d have to explain she’s my mother’s sister, or mothers brothers wife, etc. why use do many words, when just one can convey so much?

I thought I’d give you all a lesson in Punjabi relation names!

Your nuclear family
Mataji/Maaji – mother
Pitaji/Papaji – father
Veerji/bhraji – brother
Bhenji/Didi – sister
Pati – husband
Patni – wife
Soura – father in law
Saas – mother in law
Jijaji – sister’s husband
Bhabiji – brother’s wife

Let’s go one step further
Nanaji – Maternal grandfather
Naniji – Maternal grandmother
Dadaji/Babaji – Paternal grandfather
Dadiji/Bibiji- Paternal grandfather

So,then there is
Pota – grandson, son’s son
Poti – grand daughter, son’s daughter
Dota – grandson, daughter’s son
Doti – grand daughter, daughter’s daughter

A step further? Ok,
Par Nanaji – maternal great grandfather
Par Nanaji – maternal great grandmother
Par Dadaji – paternal great grandfather
Par Dadiji – paternal great grandmother

Which needs
Parota – great grandson
Paroti – great granddaughter

Uncles and aunts? Yup, heck I’m just getting started!!
Tayaji – paternal uncle, Father’s older brother
Taiyji – paternal aunt, father’s older brother’s wife
Chachaji – paternal uncle, father’s younger brother
Chachiji – paternal aunt, father’s younger brother’s wife
Bhuaji – paternal aunt, father’s sister
Phupherji – paternal uncle, father’s sister’s husband
Mamaji – maternal uncle, mother’s brother
Mamiji – maternal aunt, mother’s brother’s wife
Masiji – maternal aunt, mother’s sister
Maserji – maternal uncle, mother’s sister’s husband

Then you need nephews and nieces!
Bhatija – nephew, brother’s son
Bhatiji – niece, brother’s daughter
Bhanja – nephew, sister’s son
Bhanji – niece, sister’s daughter

Cool? Confused yet? No? Ok, more!!!
Jeth – husband’s older brother
Jethani – husband’s older brother’s wife
Deor/devar – husband’s younger brother
Darani/de rani – husband’s younger brother’s wife
Nanaan – husband’s sister
Nandoya – husband’s sister’s husband
Saala – wife’s brother
Salehaar – wife’s brother’s wife
Saali – wife’s sister
Sadu – wife’s sister’s husband

Phew!!

Now, I already knew most of these. I’ve grown up with them, and apart from one or two which I checked with my mother in law (MIL) I was quite impressed with myself! Then she opened a whole other can of worms! There were more differentiated names ??!! Really? I thought that was plenty! Oh no, there are different names for your husband’s family too! Plus she didn’t know all of them, but if I learned something new, I’ll share with you too!

Dadora – husband’s paternal grandgather
Dadez – husband’s paternal grandmother
Nanora – husband’s maternal grandfather
Nanez – husband’s maternal grandmother
Malora – husband’s maternal uncle
Mamez – husband’s maternal uncle’s wife

That’s all she knew, and she offered to find out more, but by the. My head was buzzing!!!! I know some of you will think, OMG!! I’ll stick to uncle, aunt, cousin etc… But isn’t it great that with one word I can tell you so much about that person and their connection to me? Granted it doesn’t always trip off the tongue. I have to think and double check, but I love it! One day my children will fully understand it too… I hope!!

I love my culture!!
P.S. Did I miss anything??

100 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. susielindau
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 18:33:56

    Is there going to be a test? πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Traci York
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 16:26:41

    Wow! What an amazingly simple, yet confusing as all get out, way to refer to relatives! Thanks for hurting my brain (in a good way) so early on a Sunday morning, Ritu! grin

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. angelanoelauthor
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 16:04:13

    I loved reading this list! It reminds me of the power of words to convey different meanings. I am curious though, does Punjabi have any words for “step” relations?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. lilhiddentreasures
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 15:56:56

    This is awesome! The chinese is the same! There’s a word for every relationship so you know if it is the sister-in-law on husband side of the 2nd brother or sister-in-law from your own brother etc… But you are way ahead of me… I can’t remember all their titles and I get super confuse. Nice to learn a little Punjabi culture!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Lisa Orchard
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 15:26:36

    Wow! That’s interesting! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. You Can Always Start Now
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 15:24:16

    We used to get into second cousins or first cousin once removed and that was confusing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Parul Thakur
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 13:18:24

    Oh that’s a mouthful. I know Hindi ones but Punjabi is new.
    Btw – Maternal grandmother would be Naniji, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. Gay Stepdad
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 12:36:15

    omg how do you remember all these…wait till I show this to my pati….

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. Gary
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 11:23:48

    Well, that totally cleared that one up 😳

    Always good to read cultural posts though…in fact it’s awesome after watching news that’s so negative these days #GaTu

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. Monster Mermaid
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 10:45:43

    Thats amazing….its wonderful to have all these words…even if it takes a while to get the head around them!Past aunt uncle grandparents etc I always have trouble placing relatives. Nice one Rita.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Jo (Fallen Angel)
    Mar 05, 2017 @ 10:44:13

    Thank you for this, although I did think it was going to simplify things but I’m totally confused ha ha! I guess once you know them it’s easy, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  12. Anna
    Dec 19, 2016 @ 19:24:46

    Wow, impressive. Thanks for the lesson. Very interesting. It may at first look confusing, but I see some logic in it. I have a short and very little memory though…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. joey
    Dec 17, 2016 @ 21:03:40

    Oh, now see, that’s freakin brilliant! I think there should be words for all these things in English, too, but our language is too young to have evolved this much. We also need words for stepparents and something better for life partner/boyfriend/girlfriend… Ugh. Now, I can’t imagine memorizing all of these, but if they were part of our language on the regular, they’d be VERY helpful!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  14. New Journey
    Dec 17, 2016 @ 03:11:08

    That’s truly amazing….no way could I ever remember all of that…and such beautiful words…..kat

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  15. Tikeetha T
    Dec 14, 2016 @ 17:52:35

    LOL. This is so cool. I’m totally confused.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  16. PatchworkKat
    Dec 14, 2016 @ 16:32:42

    I love this! Learning about different cultures and languages makes my native English seem so unnecessarily complicated! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  17. syl65
    Dec 14, 2016 @ 15:21:22

    Thank you for the Punjabi lesson!! I find it best to print it out to avoid getting dizzy 😡😊

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  18. charlypriest
    Dec 14, 2016 @ 10:37:10

    And I have trouble naming the person that is the son of my cousin…..What would he be to me by the way?

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  19. Erika Kind
    Dec 14, 2016 @ 10:02:58

    Wow!!! This is really cool! So, everything is clarified… but… how long does it take until that vocabulary is completely learned???

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  20. susieshy45
    Dec 14, 2016 @ 09:03:28

    Ritu,
    I think it is interesting and great that there are names for every possible relation, with whom one might interact in one’s life. It also shows a culture that is willing to nurture and perpetrate relationships between human beings. In a world that is slowly growing apart rather than drawing nearer, these nuances are the small things that show us that life is still worth it.
    Susie

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Dec 14, 2016 @ 09:10:54

      And long may it continue ! I do try to teach my kids!!!! But I fear it will die out as less youngsters are aware of these special names xx

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

      • susieshy45
        Dec 14, 2016 @ 09:30:27

        Yeah, I so understand- there needs to be a dictionary or a reference book so people who want to can refer to it when needed. When I reached my husband’s family which is a large family as compared to mine, I had to learn names of how people are addressed- I used the same names as my husband for each of the relatives and those names stuck in my mind.
        It is an oral tradition that needs to be carried to the next generation.
        Susie

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Dec 14, 2016 @ 09:41:51

        We can but try πŸ˜ƒ

        Like

  21. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
    Sep 24, 2016 @ 16:50:55

    Fascinating – and I had no idea before reading this. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Of course my first reactions are brain-based. One of the areas of challenge as we age (and with ADD/EFD from the get-go), are names and nouns – the “hand me the thing-a-ma-bob on the dookickey” and “I can’t introduce you ’cause I can’t recall her name” problems. πŸ™‚

    I wonder if having so many specific names reinforced through a lifetime is neuro-protective in some way – strengthening the areas where those bits are filed.

    1- Do native speakers retain the memory of all those names throughout the lifetime? It would appear so, since you checked with your MIL.
    2- Do those who remain in India retain them more reliably than “transplants” to other cultures – if not, does noun-strength transfer to the second language?
    3- Using scanning technology, are there differences between specific areas of the brains of those with these traditions and those without (like Americans or Brits, for example)?

    I doubt there’s been a study on this arena in particular, but we could potentially learn a lot about healthy brain aging if somebody would take it on.

    Science has discovered that growing up bi-lingual is protective against dementia, and learning new languages in adulthood helps keep the brain sharp as well. The more we use it, the less we lose it.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Sep 24, 2016 @ 17:14:56

      I think that as we grow up with these titles being bandied around, it’s second nature to us to remember them! But if our elders don’t reinforce then we would forget too!
      But there’s always the trusty ‘aunty-ji’ or ‘ uncle-ji’ to fall back on if we forget!!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 17:29:03

        I live in a small apartment building with only 6 unusually large apartments that are a bit pricey, so every unit but mine has 2-4 occupants who share space to save money.

        There are several colleges within walking distance, with a seemingly large population of students from other countries, especially in the grad programs.

        My landlord targets students, so I have had the pleasure of getting to know a few delightful (and highly intelligent) Indian grad students during their time here.

        I have learned quite a bit about their culture from what they have shared with me, and I am learning more from blogs like yours. Fascinating – and not anything taught in American schools or featured in the movies that make it here.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ritu
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 18:18:58

        Real life education…. much better than school sometimes!!!! I’m all for people asking me things if they aren’t sure. I’d rather educate them correctly rather than let them live in a mist of stereotypes!

        Liked by 2 people

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 19:03:33

        The more we interact with people from all over the world, the less we are likely to stereotype – as stigma reduces. That’s one of the things I love about theatre as well – it is one of the few tools we have to teach empathy, done right.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 2 people

      • Ritu
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 19:06:19

        Very true… I’m partial to a bit of theatre… being an English and Drama graduate myself!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 19:12:12

        I recall that about you — me too, as you seem to know.

        I used to love playing the “villains” and making them as human as the script allowed to help the audience drop a few of their knee-jerk judgments about the behavior of others. None of us are villains in our own minds. (Well, most of us are not, thank God!)
        xx, mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 19:21:14

        I love using g drama with my nursery students! It’s a great way to teach young children things 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 19:34:04

        I talked with an arts teacher only last night who will be producing a show with them – Once on This Small Island. It’s due to be shown at a well-known arts center here, so her even her most recalcitrant 9th-graders are totally psyched about it.

        I volunteered to help with some acting coaching (used to do that) and she took my card. I hope she calls, because I would love being even a small part of the project, touching again my theatre roots.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 20:35:59

        It is an amazing tool to help teach kids!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 20:43:01

        and adults! xx, mgh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Sep 24, 2016 @ 20:43:42

        Oh yeah!!! Xx

        Liked by 1 person

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  24. edwinasepisodes
    Feb 18, 2015 @ 20:16:38

    Wow! That was pretty heady reading! I think the principle is great. Like you said you know exactly who everyone is in relation to you, your husband,your grand-dad’s older cousin etc! However. you need to have one hell or a vocabulary (not to mention good memory)!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  25. Darell Grant
    Feb 06, 2015 @ 07:24:23

    Pretty impressive

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  26. Corina
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 22:40:49

    So much to remember and so much to forget!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  27. mrsbearfoot
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 20:34:10

    As a former co-worker of mine and I used to say, “My brain is full. Can I go home?!” That was quite a lesson! Thank you! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply

  28. weggieboy
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 19:14:09

    Whew!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  29. A Muslim Latina
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 15:22:26

    Lol I remember marrying hubby, had to learn what to call his siblings..and a few relatives that live around them. Lol..

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  30. The V-Pub
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 13:07:51

    I can see how someone not familiar with the language may make a mistake! That’s a lot to learn! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  31. sunsetdragon
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 11:08:23

    Hmm interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  32. thebantamblogger
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 09:57:28

    I am confused already hahaha!!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  33. amommasview
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 09:33:42

    Oh my… I had to read and read and read this again and again after liking… I am not sure if I really like it. I am just trying to imagine who many different words you have to learn to cover the entire family… Hehehe. I don’t like it. I actually love it. Thanks for sharing this πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

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