Family vocab VI: cousins

Family vocab I: mother and father

Family vocab II: child, son and daughter

Family vocab III: brothers and sisters

Family vocab IV: aunts and uncles

Family vocab V: grandparents

Since Arabic complicates more distant family relations by designating paternal uncles and aunts differently than maternal uncles and aunts, cousins will be equally complicated. Indeed, you can’t just be someone’s cousin in Arabic, you have to be the “son of ____” or “daughter of ____.” It’s easier to do this as a list:

  • Son of paternal uncle = اِبب عَمّ (ibn ʿamm)
  • Son of paternal aunt = اِبب عَمّة (ibn ʿammah)
  • Son of maternal uncle = اِبن خال (ibn khāl)
  • Son of maternal aunt = اِبن خالة (ibn khālah)
  • Daughter of paternal uncle = بِنت عَمّ (bint ʿamm) or اِبنة عَمّ (ibnat ʿamm)
  • Daughter of paternal aunt = بِنت عَمّة (bint ʿammah) or اِببة عَمّة (ibnat ʿammah)
  • Daughter of maternal uncle = بِنت خال (bint khāl) or اِبنة خال (ibnat khāl)
  • Daughter of maternal aunt = بِنت خالة (bint khālah) or اِبنة خالة (ibnat khālah)

Family vocab III: brothers and sisters

Family vocab I: mother and father

Family vocab II: child, son and daughter

Continuing our family vocabulary series, this time we look at siblings. Two Arabic roots can be used to approximate the English word “sibling,” نَسَبَ (nasaba), “to relate,” and قَرُبَ (qaruba), “to be near.” Their derivations that mean “sibling” are نُسَيب (nusayb) and أقرِباء (aqribāʾ), respectively.

“Brother” and “sister” are pretty simple, “brother” being أخ (akh, pl. إخوة ikhwah) and “sister” being its somewhat irregular feminine form, أُخت (ukht, pl. أخوات akhwāt). However, because of the tradition of plural marriage in Arab culture going back to pre-Islamic times, there is additional vocabulary for full brothers and sisters (that is, siblings with whom one shares both father and mother), who may also be called شَقيق (shaqīq) for “brother” and شَقيقة (shaqīqah) for “sister.” This derives from the verb شَقَّ (shaqqa), an example of a tri-consonantal root where the second and third consonants are identical, meaning “to split, tear, rip.” To split what, I don’t know; inheritance maybe? Realistically, أخ and أُخت should meet all your needs pretty well.

Turkish here. Persian here.

Family vocab II: child, son and daughter

Part I of the family vocab series is here.

“Child” (also “baby”) is طِفل (ṭifl, plural أطفال aṭfāl) if a boy or طِفلة (ṭiflah) if a girl (plural طِفلات ṭiflāt but ONLY if they are all girls, otherwise use the masculine plural).

“Son” is ابن (ibn, plural أبناء abnāʾ).

“Daughter” is بِنت (bint, plural بَنات banāt), which can also mean “girl,” though there are other words for “girl” as well. You may also encounter ابنة (ibnah, plural ابنات ibnāt), though this is more formal and less common.

Turkish here. Persian here.

Family vocab I: mother and father

Starting a series on family–عائلة (ʿāʾilah) or أسرة (usrah)–vocabulary across all three language blogs.

Arabic, like English and most other languages, includes both formal (“mother and father”) and informal (“mom and dad,” “mama and papa,” “mommy and daddy”) ways of referring to parents.

Mother = أُم (um, “oom”); mom, mama = ماما (māmā)

Father = أَب (ab); dad, papa = بابا (bābā, or “papa” in a language with no “p” sound)

“Parent,” singular, could be أصل (aṣl), though this can also refer to “parent” in the inanimate sense of “origin.” Also والِد (wālid, masculine) and والِدة (wālidah, feminine), which are active participles of the verb وَلَدَ (walada), “to procreate,” and thus both mean “procreator.” “Parents,” plural, assuming we’re talking about two of them, takes the dual form and thus is والِدان (wālidān).

Turkish here. Persian here.