Words for Relatives in Bulgarian
05.06.2012 § 9 Comments
Bulgaria is a place where you cannot be farther than 500 km away from your family, no matter how hard you try. Families often live in the same area or, if they don’t, one can always take a quick holiday to visit the folks на село (na selo, meaning “back in the village”). In fact, children often spend the summer months with one or the other set of grandparents somewhere in the country: in a village, a town or a small city.
The centuries-old familial traditions and bonds are reflected in the Bulgarian language. Much like the proverbial Inuit and their many words for snow, there are five different words for “uncle” in Bulgarian, four for “aunt”, three for “brother-in-law” and four for “sister-in-law”.
But, let’s start with the easy ones. (Words preceded by an asterisk don’t have a known (to me) equivalent in English.)
Parents, grandparents and children:
- Баща (bashtá) – father, usually called “tatko” or “tate”.
- Майка (máyka) – mother, addressed as “mamo” or “mayko”
- Син (sin) – son
- Дъщеря (dushteryá) – daughter
- Внук (vnuk) – grandson
- Внучка (vnúchka) – granddaughter
- Дядо (dyádo) – grandfather
- Баба (bába) – grandmother
- Прадядо (prádyado) – great-grandfather (and any male in his generation)
- Прабаба (prábaba) – great-grandmother (and any female in her generation)
Brothers, sisters and cousins:
- Брат (brat) – brother
- Сестра (sestrá) – sister
- *Батко (bátko) – older brother, often said with affection
- *Кака (káka) – older sister, often said with affection
- Братовчед (bratovchéd)- cousin (male)
- Братовчедка (bratovchédka) – cousin (female)
Parents’ Siblings and Siblings’ Children
- Племенник (plémennik) – nephew
- Племенничка (plémennichka) – niece
The following are all words that correspond to the English “aunt” and “uncle”.
- Чичо (chícho) – broad term for “uncle”, more specifically a father’s brother. This is also the name given by children to any adult they don’t know, similar to “mister” or “sir”.
- *Стринка (strínka) – a father’s brother’s wife
- Леля (lélya) – broad term for “aunt”, more specifically a father’s sister. This is also the name given by children to any female adult they don’t know, similar to “madam”, but less formal.
- *Калеко / лелинчо (kaléko or lelíncho) – a father’s sister’s husband
- *Вуйчо (vúycho) – a mother’s brother
- *Вуйна (vúyna) – a mother’s brother’s wife
- *Тетка (tétka) – a mother’s sister
- *Тетинчо (tetíncho) – a mother’s sister’s husband
- *Свако (svako) – in Eastern Bulgaria, the husband of a mother’s or a father’s sister
- Съпруг (suprúg) – husband
- Съпруга (suprúga) – wife
- Зет (zet) – the husband of a daughter, son-in-law
- Снаха (snahá) – the wife of a son, daughter-in-law
The following are parents-in-law:
- *Тъст (tust) – the father of a wife
- *Тъща (túshta) – the mother of a wife
- *Свекър (svékur) – the father of a husband
- *Свекърва (svekúrva) – the mother of a husband
The following are what parents-in-law call each other:
- *Сват (svat) – the father of a child’s spouse
- *Сватя (svátya) – the mother of a child’s spouse
The following are all words that correspond to the English “brother-in-law” and “sister-in-law”.
- *Девер (déver) – a husband’s brother
- *Шурей (shúrey) – a wife’s brother
- *Зълва (zúlva) – a husband’s sister
- *Балдъза (baldúza) – a wife’s sister
- *Шуренайка (shurenáyka) – a wife’s brother’s wife
- *Баджанак (badzhanák) – a wife’s sister’s husband. Two men married to sisters are badzanaci to each other.
- *Етърва (etúrva) – a husband’s brother’s wife. Two women married to brothers are eturvi to each other.