papa/baba = good-bye

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Geo.

Senior Member
UK English (SE England)
Hello,

In German, at least in what was Austria before World War I, as well as in the Slavic countries that once comprised the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, the word "papa" – with the stress on the first syllable – was used as a child's valediction and roughly analogous to "bye-bye" in English.

I have seen it in old letters written in German script, as well as once on a Ukrainian letter written in Cyrillic script. It takes the place of kisses drawn with an X at the bottom of intimate English letters. In fact, I once read that it is an imitation of the sound made by kissing the bottom of a letter.

I have found the same use of "papa" –when parting – in both Polish and Hungarian as well. Is it still used in standard German today?

Could those who have any knowledge of the use of this word as a parting, please explain the use in your language, or comment on its origin or use in letter writing?

Thank-you to anyone who can contribute.
 
  • Frank78

    Senior Member
    German
    I´ve never heard of that usage neither in modern German or from my grandparents but they were from Prussia and Thuringia.

    Today "Papa" simply means "dad".
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In German, at least in what was Austria before World War I, as well as in the Slavic countries that once comprised the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, the word "papa" – with the stress on the first syllable – was used as a child's valediction and roughly analogous to "bye-bye" in English.

    It is - in IPA - [pa'pa], that is, stressed on the second syllable, and with unvoiced bilabial plosives thus written by most German speakers "baba" while Slavic and Hungarian speakers will hear this "b" (correctly, as far as IPA is concerned) as [p] and write accordingly "papa".

    It may very well be the case that "baba/papa" indeed is stressed on the first syllable in Czech and Slovak as both those languages have fixed accent on the first syllable, and the same could be true for Hungarian which also has accent on the first syllable.

    In Austria however it is definitely
    [pa'pa], plosives not voiced of course (as mentioned), and usually written as "Baba!"
    The farewell still is widely used and even gaining domains: while once it was only used by very young children (and to say good bye to them) it is now even used adults to say goodbye to each other - especially in Vienna and some provincial towns this isn't a children's farewell anymore.
    However, "Baba" is much more intimate than "goodbye" - you wouldn't use it with complete strangers, it carries too much affection.

    As far as its use is concerned "Baba" is colloquial in Austria, I wouldn't recommend it for standard language - but you may still find it in literature, I wouldn't be surprised if you did.
    Frank's answer suggests that Germans do not use this, or at least not like Austrians do.

    Its origin most likely is baby talk (the first syllables babies utter are "ba/pa" and "da/ta" - and also "ma" and "na" of course; they're just the easiest to pronounce).
     

    mcibor

    Senior Member
    To add more, 'papa, with stress on first syllable in Polish means Father, but it's not common to hear it.
    Single pa is also used for parting, especially in sms or chat talk (it's spoken as well)

    To add more confusion ;) Polish 'papa is tar paper used to cover roof (German Pappe)

    I meant accent, not access in previous post
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    An interesting topic. In my opinion the origin is from children's talk. I might use it when speaking to girls or with close male friends for fun, both in Czech, Hungarian, Slovak or Polish. I think children use it as the standard bye-bye and they also use some hand movements. And I think the reason might be that since English (bye-bye) or German Tschüss is very easy to prounounce, I cant imagine to learn poor little chidlren to say: Nashledanou or Viszontlátásra. :D
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Frank's answer suggests that Germans do not use this, or at least not like Austrians do.
    No, Germans don't use baba. In addition, Frank was misled by the spelling papa. As Sokol wrote, Germans definitely hear baba. The pronunciation of German Papa is ['pʰapʰa]. In Austrian German "b" and "p" are practically indistinguishable but in German German they are very different.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    Czech:

    ['pa: pa:] or simply ['pa:] used by little children and informally by adults (So long!)

    In teenagers' slang it is páčko.

    Tak zatím páčko! So long until later!
     
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    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In teenagers' slang it is páčko.

    Tak zatím páčko! So long until later!
    Interestingly, in Austrian German (colloquial) we use equivalent forms - "babatschi" or short "batschi" - which would be transcribed in Czech spelling as "papáči/pači".

    This "tschi" ('Slavic' "či") is kind of a diminutive and productive in colloquial Austrian German (for example also used for names - the nick of someone named "Praher" for example becomes "Pratschi = Prači"); so "babatschi" is kind of a diminutive form - while in Czeck this suffix "čki" is an adjective derivational suffix.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    -ček (m.), -čka (f.), -čko (n.) are diminutive suffixes.
    Morphologically páčko is a noun of neuter gender.

    Hungarian has similar suffixes: -acska (for nouns with back vowels) and -ecske (for nouns with front vowels).
     

    Geo.

    Senior Member
    UK English (SE England)
    I hope this post is acceptable to the moderator ... though it comes from a chat site, it is highly relevant, and I removed all identifying information and trimmed the conversation down to only the pertinent parts.

    I am quoting a brief conversation from an ESL -- English as a Second Language -- chat room, where I volunteer as a tutor, regarding the use of 'papa' in Switzerland to-day. (Andreas, the respondent, is a Swiss native of German background, with German as his mother-tongue).

    23 October 2009
    Andreas has entered the room
    Andreas: Hallo Georg
    George: Grüzi! Wie geht's?
    Andreas: Gut und dir?
    George: Auch Gut!
    George: Woher aus der Schweiz? Ich hab vergessen.
    Andreas: Ich aus Zürich
    George: Andreas, I have a question about a word, and its use in Swiss-German.
    Andreas: You're welcome to ask what you like, if I can help, Georg.
    George: Do you hear people use 'papa' or 'baba' to mean 'bye-bye' these days, sort of like 'Tschüß!' They say it in my Mum's family; they're Swiss by birth, but of Austrian extraction.
    George: 'papa' or 'baba' spelled either way -- so I am told, but we only used 'papa' in my family -- it's used to close, to say 'bye' in Austria, but I've been led to believe it's not said in Germany.
    George: Of course some Austrians say 'Servus' almost as often as 'Grüß Gott!' ... and both of them for good-bye or hello.
    Andreas: "pa-pa" means "bye". It's only used when parting not when meeting. It's familiar.
    Andreas: Not "ba-ba", Georg. It's "pa-pa", at least in Switzerland it is. "ba-ba" in some dialects probably, but not in mine.
    George: Thanks Andreas. It is still used and heard in Switzerland to-day then?
    Andreas: "Grüß Gott" and "Serbus"/"Servus" is said in mostly Catholic Cantons.
    Andreas: Zürich is a Protestant canton and here it is either "Hallo" or "Grüß dich".
    Andreas: Yes, pa-pa is very commonly used with friends and family all the time. It's said with children too but not exclusively. For instance, people who are dating say it as well.
    George: We used to write it at the bottom of letters, after one signed ones name.
    Andreas: As I say, pa-pa is very common in Switzerland, just remember it's not simply informal, rather it's familiar.
    Andreas: Yes, you could certainly use it in a letter, but only after the regular closing. It would be the last thing you'd write.
    George: Thank you again, Andreas, I appreciate your sharing your knowledge.
    Andreas: No problem.
    Andreas: Gladly!
    Andreas: You always help me with my English, Georg.
    George: OK, 'papa', Andreas!
    Andreas: Pa-pa George
    End of relevant transcripts.
     

    Geo.

    Senior Member
    UK English (SE England)
    (I am always both elated and invariably edified when I receive notice of a response or posting from sokol. I should like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for his always being both gracious & generous with his knowledge. My mother was first generation Swiss, but her background was Austrian; thus, I recognise the common Austro-Hungarian echo of years ago that can still be faintly heard at certain times when Sokol writes, and which we both share).
    In children's, well, no, baby language in Dutch it would be dada, bye-bye.

    Isn't there tata in German in this sense ?
    To which Sokol responded:
    No, or at least not in Austria - here in Austria "dada" is baby language for father (or "tata", doesn't matter as the plosive always would be unaspirated and voiceless, no matter how you may find it written).
    When speaking German in my mother’s family, there would have been three diminutives for Vater, (i.e. father).
    1.) Vati / Vatti = Dad, perhaps closer to standard, although still a diminutive; (we, ourselves, did not seem to use it).

    2.) Papa = Daddy, for just as Frank78 noted: (Re: papa/baba = good-bye)
    I´ve never heard of that usage neither in modern German or from my grandparents but they were from Prussia and Thuringia.

    Today "Papa" simply means "dad".
    N.B. papa / baba may well mean ‘bye-bye’ in Austria and Switzerland at least, but just as in Germany, so too in Austria and Switzerland, 'Papa' also means ‘Dad' / 'Daddy’, yet as a noun, in this sense, it must be capitalised in accordance with German orthography.
    3.) Tata / Dada = Dadda / Daddy (Dada not to be confused with the so-called art form ‘Dada’) is yet another diminutive of father (in Austrian dialect at least). We both spoke and wrote it Tata, (not Dada) in my family; however, its use was not overly encouraged. Of the three diminutives, I think this is because it was considered the most dialectic.
    To re-cap, so as not to diverge from the subject: ‘papa / baba’ and ‘Papa’ can mean both ‘bye-bye’ and ‘Dadda’ / ‘Daddy’ respectively, however ‘Tata’ does not mean ‘bye-bye’ as it does in English rather ‘Tata’ / ‘Dada’ = ‘Dadda’ / ‘Daddy’.
     
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    jana.bo99

    Senior Member
    Cro, Slo
    We use to say (in Croatian) either:

    Pa Pa (wave with the hands): means good-bye
    or
    good-bye is the same.
    Correction here:

    Pa Pa is the same as Bye Bye.
    We say it usually to small children, when they go away with their mother.

    To say Pa Pa to adult person: looks strange.
     

    TrudyT

    New Member
    English
    Perhaps the usage of "Papa" is related to the Martitime use of the International Code of Signals? The "P" or phonetic "Papa" flag is used to indicate that a vessel is about to proceed to sea.

    So when a ship is leaving the harbor, Papa could translate to "Bye Bye"?
     

    Wordcherisher

    New Member
    Ukrainian
    Pa-pa! (or simply Pa!) is ubiquitous as a form of saying good bye in the Ukrainian-speaking western part of Ukraine.
    It is used when parting company with your friends, good acquaintaces who are not much older than you, so it is used in an informal interaction. It's not restricted only to children and adolescents, I can easily imagine it being said by close friends in their early fourties. Though it is unlikely to be used by 80-year-olds as they are accustomed to wishing people health, luck, God's blessings while taking leave.
    It is of interest that the phrase is used only by Ukrainian natives in the West of the country. Some people attribute it to the influence of Polish (that part of Ukraine was under Poland for several decades, and under Austro-Hungary before that). Russian-speaking Ukrainians don't use it (as it was mentioned above).
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Some people attribute it to the influence of Polish (that part of Ukraine was under Poland for several decades, and under Austro-Hungary before that).
    It is still used in Austria exactly the way you describe it. It is transcribed ba-ba and not pa-pa there, but it is still the same word. The Austrian b is de-voiced.
     

    Sardokan1.0

    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    Similar in Romanian.

    Pa-Pa!:)
    Same in Sardinian, when you salute someone that it's leaving, and you urge him to go, you say : Bae Bae!

    In Sardinian language "Bae" it's the imperative singular of "Andare" (to go)

    Latin : Vade -> Va(d)e -> Bae (go!)
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Macedonian

    па-па!
    or папа! (pá-pá! or pápá!) = "bye-bye!", used by/to young children
    папа (pápa) verb 3rd p.s. = "eat", used by/to young children
    Папа (Pápa) noun = "Pope"
     
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