Diminutives of names in your language

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Etcetera, Jun 9, 2006.

  1. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Hi all,
    I'd like to discuss diminutives of names in different languages. It seems to me that languages differ a lot here! For example, in Russian there are usually lots of diminutives, whereas in Italian some names seem to be used only in their full form (Chiara, Sofia, Mia, Carlo...), as well as in Finnish (Eila, Tarja, Ville). I guess it depends also on the number of possible suffixes in the given language, but nevertheless.
    My name's Anna, and in Russian there is about a dozen of possible diminutives; I'm not sure I can remember them all, but I'll try to list as many as I can.
    - Anya - is the most popular diminutive, and what's interesting, it doesn't sound too informal. If you come, say, to a bank office and want to ask something a girl who's called Anna, you may address her as Anya, but only if she's no more then 25 years old or so.
    - Anechka or Anyuta - is more informal, and is usually used by relatives or close friends.
    - Annushka - remember Master and Margarita? :) This diminutive isn't used so widely, and most often it is used ironically.
    - Nyura - was especially popular among peasants before 1917 or so. This diminutive almost came out of use by now, but I know an Anna who prefers to be called so:).
    - Nyusha - sounds pretty informal, is used by relaties only, it seems. My parents also call me Myusha - I really, really don't know why!
    There are other variants (Anyusya, Anyura, Nyuta), but these are the most common...

    So, what about diminutives in your language? And what do you think about diminutives? Do you like when someone calls you by you pet name, or you prefer to be addressed by your full name? I myself dislike being called by any of the diminutives, and when a stranger or a person whom I don't know very well tries to address me as Anya, it sounds to me very unceremonious...
  2. Rux New Member

    Funny you mentioned diminutives in Russian.. did you notice that most of the diminutives for men are ending in <a>? I find this odd, since in other languages usually she-names end in <a>. Also, some of them really confuse me since they barely relate to the initial name - e.g. Vova for Vladimir or Sasha for Alexander. Yeah, and Nyura is also a good one! By the way, I like it.
    Back to your question: number and usage of diminutives are depending on people’s characters and habits. Russian nation has a deep sentimental nature which reveals itself in poetry as well as in day-to-day talk. Hence the large usage of diminutives. On the other side - as Russian spirit appears to me as extremely contradictory - the roughness is expressed in swearing and violent language.
    Wrapping up, probably you don’t like strangers to call you by nick-names because it implies a certain familiarity you dont agree to. Also, your name is not long enough to make the diminutive efficient. In my case, I like people to call me by my nick-name as it is shorter and less complicated. However, I usually ask them to do that..
  3. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Right you are, the situation with diminutives for men is really funny:). And sometimes diminutives for men and women can be the same: Sasha may srtand both for Alexander and Alexandra.
    My opinion is that a person should be called by the name they say when they introduce themselves. And sometimes I just get angry with people who, hearing my name 'Anna', immediately reply with 'Ah, nice to meet you, Anya'. It's most annoying!:mad: However, I usually don't show my annoyance at that, I just tell them politely that I prefer to be addressed by my full name...

    As for swearing language - well, Romanian also has some strong expressions. ;)
  4. Rux New Member

    Yes, it's true, Romanians do have some juicy swearing too.. sadly, the diminutives and poetic expression are not compensatory in number
    Back to Anna-Anya conflict.. it's no big deal, actually. I think that what's really bothering is that people dont take you seriously yet - they dont accept you as a mature person for now (I assume you have this problem with older folks). Dont worry, as time passes you will get to be called Anna and maybe - just maybe - you'll come to regret the <Anya> ..
    I hope I didn't sound patronizing - it was not my intention. I'm in a nostalgic mood these days - I had to supervise some temps - students - and I couldn't get them to call me by my name or to use the less formal addressing formula (in Romanian we have two formulae for addressing to a person: the informal <you> and a more formal and respectful one - lets say <thou/thee>). It felt bad..
  5. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    In the UK it is very common to use the shorter forms of names, Ed for Edward, and Tom for Thomas. It has got to the point where parents are naming their children Ed rather than Edward. You would assume that it is a shortened version but now it is their full name!

    My name is a shortened version of my "given" name that I dislike very much, and only my mother uses it when she is angry with me. She still does it and am nearly 26!!

    Purrs Gatita :)
  6. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    No, no, no. It's the same problem with younger people. And many more people tend to use diminutives even when they're addressing those who are of the same age or even a bit older. I guess it has more to traditions...
    I don't know why on earth people tend to call each other by diminutives - at least here in Russia. Last summer I worked as an insurance agent - I was sitting in the office, selling insurance policies. As filling all those application forms usually requires some discussion, some people used to ask my name in order to know how they might address me. OK, I realise clearly that it's rather hard to accept me as a mature person (I'm 20 now, and I look much younger), but still I was kinda official...
    That wasn't wholly because of my age and look - I've heard people addressing by diminutives hairdressers, shop-assistants, and so on. Maybe that's because they think they have the right to address those who're offering them some services?.. Interestingly enough, I've never heard anyone addressing a doctor, for instance, in amy other way than the most polite:).
  7. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Ah so!:) I see such names as Ed, Tom very often, and I've always wondered if these are full names or the person just prefer to be called by the diminutive!
    Oh yes, names can be very powerful when it cames to showing your attitude towards somebody. :D My Mum usually call me 'Nyura' when she's angry with me, and 'Anna' when shes pleased with something I've done or jusst wants me to do something I'm now willing to do. It works!:)
  8. Rux New Member

    Maybe it's their way to be <nice>? To try to please you, so you will like them more? Or to initiate a closer relation that will "force" you to be more perceptive to their demands?
    Anyway, doctors are respected and feared by almost everybody.. and rightfully so, as they make a huge difference in the world.
  9. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    You know, it may be so, indeed. And it seems to me that the majority of people like to be called in such a way, and it definitely helps to establish more closer relation and make a person more interested in helping you. I've read a book by Jill Spiegel, where she recommended always try to address people by their names, if you know them. But as I can remember, she didn't advise to use diminutives. All in all, addressing someone whom you aren't familiar with by their full ame is absolutely normal everywhere; but the use of a diminutive may seem too great a familiarity.
    Besides, there are always people who just don't know how to behave properly, especially on formal occasions.
    Then, let us remember cultural aspect of communication:). People from different countries and even from different parts of a country very often have different idea of how to behave. For example, Petersburgers are generally much more polite then Muscovites, and Muscovites are often more polite then Southerners... The latter are the most unceremonious people I've dealt with! :eek: I don't mean to say they're rude - I guess their idea of being nice is simply very different from mine. Oh, the difficulties of cross-cultural communication...:rolleyes:
  10. Dr. Quizá

    Dr. Quizá Senior Member

    Esuri - Huelva York.
    Spain - Western Andalusian Spanish.
    In Spanish there are mostly three forms to make those diminutives: suffixes (that may be standard, the sames used to make diminutives for other nouns and adjectives and usually are used to call kids, or non standard) shorter forms and completely different forms. They can be combined as well. Examples:

    Francisco: Fran, Francisquito, Chisco, Curro, Paco, Currito, Paquito, Frasco, Frasquito, Currillo...
    Antonio: Antoñito, Toni, Toño, Antoñete...
    José: Joselito, Josete, Pepe, Pepito, Pepón, Sete...
    Rosario: Charo, Charito, Charini, Rosarito, Rosarillo...
    Dolores: Lola, Mariló, Loli...

    Compound (¿?) names can be blended into a single diminutive:
    Chus (María Jesús), Chema (José María), Pepelu (José Luis), Mariajo (María José), Juande (Juan de Dios)...

    The more popular the name, the higher amount of diminutives. Man names seem to have more diminutives than woman names, but there are a lot of woman names after a Virgin, like "María del Carmen", "María de los Dolores", "María de las Angustias" or "María de las Piedras Albas", that even officially are shortened to their last part in most cases: Carmen, Dolores, Angustias... This make some of those women to have horrible names, since "Dolores" means "pains" and "Angustias" means "anguishes" :eek:
  11. Alberto77 Senior Member

    Hallo everybody! How would it be the diminutive of the name Nataliya in russian? What about Tusya? Others?
    thanx a lot
  12. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member


    My name is Natasha, which is pretty same as Natalia...

    I have many shortened names: Natzka, Nati, Nata, Natza, Tasha, Tashka....
  13. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Hi Alberto,
    there's a lot of diminutives, too.
    - Natasha (most popular and most universal. All the other variants sound much more informal)
    - Nata
    - Tasha
    - Tusya (but I've seen this in literature only, I don't know any Natalia who would be called Tusya actually; but at the same time, there's only three or four Natalias among my friends:))
    - Natal'yushka (almost impossible to pronounce!:eek: )
    - Natulya.
  14. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Dr. Quizá, thanks a lot! Diminutive names in Spanish are really interesting! I've always wondered how many names a person can have in Spanish-speaking countries, and it's a pity that Russian kids get only one name!
  15. Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish

    I just have one... :( My name is "Maria" but most people call me "Mei"... don't ask me why, I still don't know, it's my sister fault! Aiiixxx

    What about those names as "Dolores Fuertes Cabeza"? :rolleyes:

  16. Dr. Quizá

    Dr. Quizá Senior Member

    Esuri - Huelva York.
    Spain - Western Andalusian Spanish.
    Most people have one or two names and all we have two surnames. I have two names and my brother and my sisters have three each, but there are people like Picasso (BTW, that's a French surname) whose surnames are Ruiz Picasso, but his full name is Pablo Diego José Santiago Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Crispín Crispiniano de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz Picasso!!! :eek: :D
  17. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    Try saying that when you are drunk, bet you if that was my full name and my mother was in a strop with me she would still manage it!!

    Gatita x
  18. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Gatita, it's truly awful!:eek: I could only read this with three pauses for breath!
    And the name of the girl you have mentioned is just marvellous:). Here in Russia parents love giving their kids unusual names, too... About 10-15 years ago Spanish names were extremely popular, 'cause there were lots of 'soap operas' on TV, and they were so popular among women... I remember journalists reporting about some 300 girls named Alondra, for example. Patricia, Isabel, Luis were also very popular names. It was subject of endless jokes!:)
  19. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    The fashion dictates a lot of the names here in the UK. There are kids called Maddox after Angelina Jolie's son, and all sorts named after Chris Martin's children.

    The posher people use the names from the Royal Family as well, kind of like a status symbol.

    What's it like where you guys are from?

    Gatita :)
  20. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Well, the Royal Family names aren't extravagant, are they?:) Elizabeth, Margareth, Henry, William are truly English names, very beautiful.
    I myself was named after my great-grandmother, who became a true family legend because she, being evacuated from Leningrad with her two kids to a small town in Ural, managed to return to the city right after the Siege ended. But the name Anna also belonged to several Russian empresses:).
  21. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    In Egypt there are different ways of giving diminutives, that don't follow a strict rule.
    For example, we choose a letter of the name, and form a diminutive with it : Dalia, Doaa, Darine, Nadia... are called Doudou ("ou", like in "too"), or "didi", or "dodi", or "dodda"....
    Mona, Mariam, Marie, Maha, Mervat..... are called Mimi
    Laila, Lamia, Lana.... are called Loulou or Loula,

    Cherine gets the deminutive form : cheri (stress on the first syllable, not like the French :) )

    Boys have different forms of diminutives :
    Mohamed and Ahmed are mainly called Hamada (the H is the letter ح which doesn't have an equivalent in English), but are somtimes called Mido.
    Michel is called Micho
    John, Joseph are called Jo
    Many people simply "invent" the diminutives as they please :)
  22. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    In Serbia, long time ago, there were Gypsies called Jamesdin. (Read: Y-A-M-E-S-D-I-N)

    They were given names after James Dean.:eek:

    Recently I heard that here in Spain, Gypsies were also called JAMESDIN - the same only read in Spanish way: Read: H-A-M-E-S-D-I-N):D
  23. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Wow, Natasha, that is extraordinary and very interesting!

    It is funny how diminuitives can carry on through life. My big brother's name is Nicholas and I always used to call him "Nicky". Now we are grown up, I still call him "Nicky", but I notice that everyone else calls him "Nick". "Nicky" does not really suit him now because he is a big strong 48 year old road builder.
  24. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    heheh... Well, I think the people are right... It really doesn't suit him this name any more...

    But then, I think that our little brothers (sisters) will always be for us little... BTW, my brother's name is also Nikola which would be the same as Nicholas, and I call him Nikolica (read: Nikolitza), which is a diminutive for a very small children...:) And he is not a road builder, but he is 33 years old and it is really ridiculous to keep on calling him like this, but I simply can't resist...:)
  25. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    In the US, because all of us (except for Native-Americans) come from other countries and cultures, we have all of the above! I have an Italian friend whose name is Giovanna; her family and friends call her Gianna. I have an Israeli friend whose name is Channa; she is called Channela (sorry, I'm not quite sure how to spell it).

    Then there are all of English diminutives for Margaret (my mother's name): Marge, Margie, Peg, Peggy, Margot, etc.

    Finally, we also have certain groups that go the other way; they give double names that are almost never shortened: Mary Lou, Mary Louise, Mary Beth, Sarahbeth (or Sarabeth or Sarah Beth or Sara Beth), Joe-Bob, Billy Jo, Amy Lou, John Edward, etc.

    Aren't people amazingly inventive?
  26. mickaël

    mickaël Senior Member


    In French (generally with quite old first names), the diminutives are formed with a suffixe :

    Masculine : -ot, -et, -on, -in,...
    Pierre : Pierrot
    Jean : Jeannot
    Jacques : Jacquot
    Paul : Paulin
    Louis : Louison

    Feminine : -otte, -ette, -elle, -ine,...

    (But in the most of cases, the feminine diminutives are used as full-fledged names)

    An other way, it's to use a shorter form :
    Joseph : Jojo
    Gérard : Gégé
    Nicolas : Nico
    Marie-Louise : Marie-Lou
    Jean-François : J-F
  27. Laia

    Laia Senior Member

    Catalan, Spanish

    in Catalan you can add some suffixes as:
    • et/a
    Pau: Pauet
    Núria: Nurieta
    • ó/ona
    Now I can't imagine a male name with this suffix in particular...
    Laia: Laiona

    You can cut names also:
    Francesc: Cesc
    Meritxell: Txell
    Xavier: Xavi
    Montserrat: Montse/Muntsa/Munsa

    Laia... mmm...I meant... Laieta!
  28. My late husband was James Daniel. As a child he was called Jimmy, as an adult mostly Jim, sometimes Jimmy. Our honeymoon was spent in Mallorca where I gave him the Spanish name Jaime - that stuck throughout our 31 years of marriage. I also sometimes called him Jimbo.

    My sons are Daniel James and David William. We always addressed them by their full first name but, as they grew older, their friends used the diminutives Dan and Dave. These are the names I use now. My mother always referred to them as "the two Ds".

    Some "old fashioned" English names:

    Albert, Cuthbert, Herbert - diminutive Bert. Herberts are sometimes called Herbie.
    Victor - Vic.
    Archibald - Archie.
    Edward - Ted.
    Frederick - Fred.
    Leslie - Les.
    Robert - Bob.
    Richard - Dick.
    Theobald - Theo.
    William - Bill.

    Florence - Flo.
    Gladys - Glad.
    Victoria - Vicky. (Queen Victoria's first child was Princess Victoria, affectionately known as Vicky. QV's first name was Alexandrina - she was called Drina.)
    Penelope - Penny.
    Frances - Fanny.
    Mabel - Mabs.
    Maureen - Mo.
    Evelyn - Eve.

  29. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    The commonest way to shorten names in UK is to drop the endings off:

    Brigid becomes Bridge
    Thomas becomes Tom
    Katherine become Kath (or Kate)

    You can also add an "ee" sound to a full name or to a shortened name:
    Kathy (or Katy)

    adding an "ee" is often done by your closest friends and family - it can sound a bit childish in formal contexts. For this reason my friend, Mandy, always uses Amanda as her name at work - although she was christened as Mandy!)

    Some "short forms" dont sound mch like their long forms,
    e.g. Jack from James (also has Jim, Jimmy)

    Dick is "short" for Richard
    Rick or Ricky are also part of Richard.

    My name is Susan and I HATE being called Sue, though I like Suze or even Suzi!

    I think Suzanna a syllable too far, and I don't think it is widely used in the UK.
  30. aledraka New Member

    Italian, Italy
    :D :D

    Wow, how many names! It's interesting to read something you don't find in grammars and books..
    I really would like to explain our way, but I'm a bad teacher:eek:
    I like the way we break some names, for instance:

    Martina:arrow: Marta
    Valentina, Valeria:arrow: Vale
    Ludovica:arrow: Ludo
    Alessandra:arrow: Ale
    Margherita:arrow: Marghe

    and so on, and so on..
  31. maxiogee Banned

    Anthony is commonly shortened to Tony throughout the English-speaking world, but we in Dublin tend to opt for "Anto" (Dubliners tend to like names to be abbreviated so that they end in ~o or ~er.)
    When I was young my sister was the only one I knew who actually pronounced the 'h' in my name. I was usually Ant'ny.
    My schoolmates called my Anto, but when I began work I went into an office which alreadyt had an Anthony, so I opted for Tony and have used that ever since. My mother refused to call me anything other than Anthony all her life. It was quite something to hear her talk to my wife - who never knew me in my Anthony days and refused to call me that - as they referred to "Tony said… " followed by "Tell Anthony…".
  32. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Your Majesty and maxiogee,

    Do you know how/why Richard becomes Dick (is Dickon still used?) or why/how Edward became Ned? I've always wondered how that first consonant got changed!

    I also remember being surprised that maxiogee's name was "Tony." It is rarely used in the US except among Italian or Spanish families (Tonio also is used), and didn't realize that it was the common abbreviation for Anthony in the English Speaking world. My German uncle was Anthony; my Italian uncle was Tony!

    Finally, speaking of older English names: I was surprised that anyone would name a child Theobald or Cuthbert (thought the names were long dead). Please tell me there are no Etheldreda's running around!

  33. maxiogee Banned

    I'm sorry, I don't know "how" those names become Dick & Ned, but many an Irishman named Edward has become Ned. It is even applied to those who have been christened with the Irish version - Éamon, or its anglicised version Eamonn.

    As to Theobald, one of Ireland's great historical figures was Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the many Protestants who aspired to Irish unity.

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