Turkey 105: kimsin (who are you?)

I’m taking a minute from packing (the never ending struggle that has been our lives for five years) to add a new course to my Turkish lessons series.  One of the most confusing aspects of Turkish culture for me (and even my husband!) are family titles.  Pretty soon (inşallah) I will be filling my blog posts with stories including members of my husband’s family… And I will likely refer to them by their family titles.  So first,  a few general notes:

Firstly,  I found it very interesting (and helpful) that turks consider which side of the family the member is on when assigning a title. None of that maternal and paternal nonsense.  In some cases there is no difference in the name regardless of side (i.e. Cousin, grandfather…) but the majority do.

Second,  these titles are not set in stone.  For example,  you may call your cousin uncle or aunt if they are much older than you,  much like America.

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We were on our way to see some family!

So,  let’s get started!

Baba: father

Anne: mother

Ağabey or abi: elder brother (used as a sign of respect,  can also be used for male friends or extended family who you are close with)

Abla: elder sister (same rules as abi apply)

Babaanne: paternal grandmother

Anneanne: maternal grandmother

Dede: grandfather,  paternal or maternal

Dayı: maternal uncle (can also be used for older members of your extended family,  usually on the mother’s side)

Amca: paternal uncle (same rules as dayı apply)

Teyze: maternal aunt (same rules as the uncles)

Hala: paternal aunt (you guessed it,  same rules)

Yenge: a woman who has married into the family,  or a female member of a spouse’s family (a sign of respect, typically used for those who are older than the one who is speaking.  For example,  my husband calls his uncles wife yenge,  I am called yenge by his younger cousins,  etc.)

Inişte: a man who has married into the family,  or a male member of a spouse’s family (the male form of yenge)

Kız: a young girl (used as a term of affection)

Kuzen: cousin,  either maternal or paternal.  Usually you don’t add this title to the persons name,  though, or call them by this title.

Torun: grandchild.  Also not typically used as a title or with the persons name.

Here are some examples of how these titles may be used in conversation

Ayşe speaking to her older brother,  Mehmet:
A: Abi,  when are you coming back from school?
M: In about an hour.

Aylin speaking to her maternal uncle, Hussein:
A: Hussein Dayı,  how are you?
H: I’m great kızım (my girl),  how about you?

Sema speaking to her husband’s uncle, Can:
S: İnişte,  are you staying for dinner?
C: I intend to,  your chicken is the best!

Let me know if any of these titles seem wrong…  As I said before,  some of these titles can be used in various ways,  and even my husband gets confused. If you can think of any more,  comment below!

See you for the next installment,  İnşallah!

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