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Nicknames

May 13, 2011

I have a confession.  I don´t know a lot of names.  I know a lot of faces.  But I don´t know the name that goes with the face.  This is partially due to the fact that I learned most of the names my first few weeks here.  At that time Turkish names were still very foreign to my ears and were incredibly hard to remember.  Sometimes it is still hard to remember a name, but nothing like the first few weeks.

However, knowing names is not always a requirement when you talk to someone, especially in Turkey.  The goal now is to try to introduce you to common ‘nicknames’ in Turkish.  Since we don´t have the equivalent in English (other than the literally translation– not the literally meaning), this may be a bit hard.  Please note that I have been called all (or most) of these things.  The literal translation is in parentheses.

Canım (My soul) Please note this is not under the sweetheart section.  It is probably one of the most commonly used words in Turkish daily language.  You use it to address anyone who you have a relationship with- siblings, family, friends.  Usually you must know the person before you use this word, but really it is not that important.  If you see a cute little kid on the street, you could easily address him/her as canım.  I haven´t payed close attention, but I don´t think you address people older than you using ‘canım’.  Same age or younger and you´re set to go.

Tatlım (My sweet) Again, not as common as canım but used in the same way.  I´ve noticed it more common among family members than friends.  But, it is totally okay to use if you want. 

Kardeşim (My sibling-brother and sister are the same word unless clarified) Surprisingly, not as common in families.  Much more around friends and classmates.  It is a term of endearment, but the same amount as if an American were to hug a classmate.  Not big.  But also not said to anyone; you have to know the person.

Teyze/Amca (Aunt/Uncle) Used ALL the time for people who aren´t related to you.  If you don´t know an older person´s name (older as in the age range of a possible aunt/uncle), you can call them teyze/amca and you are set.  If some guy is begging on the street, this name works.

Abla/Ağabey (Abi) (Older sister/Older brother) Same as the aunt/uncle thing, but for younger people who are older than you.  Guys also use it when talking to their guy friends.  Without having to say, used a lot both in and out of the family.  Almost as popular as canım.

Kanka (Good friend) Short of Kan Kardeş (Blood brother).  Used for close friends but all the time between guys.  Only for friends though, I have never heard it between family members.  But hey, they are already blood related.

Arkadaşım (My friend) Same as kardeşim.  Just a different literal meaning.

Hocam (My master) The name of every teacher at the high school.  I don´t know all my teachers´ names because we only use hocam.  If you do talk about a teacher, you say their first name followed by ‘hoca’ (master).  For example: my math teacher is Osman Hoca.  Osman is the first name.  Completely opposite of the USA (Mr. Aydın).

For Sweethearts

Just used among boyfriend/girlfriend.  They all seemed a bit much the first time I learned the translations.  We just don´t use the same words in the USA.  These are used much much more than one´s name.  

Hayatım (My life)

Sevgilim (My sweet)

Bir Tanem (My one [thing])

Heyşeyim (My everything)

Aşkım (My love)

How romantic. 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Abby permalink
    May 13, 2011 3:39 pm

    It seems like other areas use nicknames like this a lot more than the mainland U.S….kind of interesting. Oh, and the part about learning lots of names in the first few weeks and forgetting them all happens in college, too…you just don’t have the handy nicknames to fall back on. 🙂

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