Farsi or Persian is a fascinating language, not because it is easy to use or fun to learn. but because of some strange features it has that I have never seen in another language. The other day I was buying a piece of bread from the supermarket near us, when I asked for bread the old shop keeper said “Here you are, uncle!”. In Farsi it sound natural but it probably sounds very weird to anyone not familiar with this language. In this post I am going to discuss some of the strange uses of words related to family relations in Farsi.
Using your relation to someone to call them!
In Farsi it is common for a close relative to call you by the word for their own relation to you. For example your dad may call you ‘dad’! It is actually a way of showing endearment and is usually used for a child. This way of calling is only used for informal words for ‘father’, ‘mother’, ‘uncle’ and ‘aunt’ (I have never heard a grandparent calling their grand children ‘grandfather’!)
We have two common words for father (like English):
- پدر (pedar): It is the more formal way of calling your father. It is mostly used to talk about the male parent relation instead of calling him in person. It is also used to address an elderly man.
- بابا (bâbâ): It is the informal way of calling you father. Most people called their father in person with this word or a variation of this word. Different dialect of Farsi have different words for this use.
But using ‘baba’ is not limited to addressing your father. It is also used as an informal intensifier. It is mostly used in imperative sentences and When used it emphasizes on the sentence while making it more informal and friendly (kind of like the use of word ‘man’ in English imperative sentences). for example:
سریع باش بابا!
which loosely translates to “hurry up man!”
Similar to father we have two words for mother:
- مادر (mâdar): It is the more formal way of calling your mother. It is mostly used to talk about the female parent relation instead of calling her in person. It is also used to address an elderly woman.
- مامان (mâmân): It is the informal way of calling you mother. Most people called their mother in person with this word or a variation of this word. Different dialect of Farsi have different words for this use.