Kinship and family ties are woven with unique terms to address our loved ones. A sibling encompasses the camaraderie forming an unbreakable bond between brothers, the male siblings, and sisters, the female siblings. The siblings of our parents are Aunts, sisters, Uncles, the brothers. But is it the same in every foreign language? It is not. These terms in English are the result of an intricate web of family, history, culture, and language:

Siblings: Brothers & sisters

Mapping the words sibling, brother and sister, and similar terms in different languages
The number of roots in each language

The translation of the terms brother and sister across different languages presents a challenge. These linguistic expressions are deeply intertwined with cultural and linguistic traditions, making their accurate translation a captivating endeavor. While some languages, like English, have a specific word for both brothers and sisters: sibling. Many languages do not.

The task of translating these familial terms extends beyond finding their equivalent words in other languages. It requires capturing the intricate meanings and cultural subtleties associated with them. For instance, Spanish and Greek utilize only one root with different suffixes (Herman+o & Herman+a). However the plural “Hermanos” may refer to “brothers” but also “siblings”.

Another example is in Spanish, where just like in English these terms can go along with adjectives “hermano mayor” (older brother) and “hermano menor” (younger brother) precisely denote birth order. In contrast, certain Turkic languages offer distinct words that explicitly indicate the order of birth, adding further depth to the linguistic expression.

Aunts & Uncles

The translation of the terms aunt and uncle is not challenging as brother and sister. Most of the languages have one term for aunt and another for uncle. In Italians & Spanish it is even the same root. In general Scandinavian languages and languages from the Middle East have more than one term.


Mapping the words aunt in different languages


Mapping the words uncle in different languages

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