8.4.1. Kinship reference termsJapanese kinship terms have two categories: reference terms and address terms. The latter is used to call your family without using their name, like the English words dad and mom. Kinship reference terms are never used to call them directly.
Note: Another word ふぼ "hubo", which means father and mother, is also commonly used in formal situations.
Note: The word ちちおや "titioya" is also commonly used.
Note: The word ははおや "hahaoya" is also commonly used.
Note: Japanese distinguishes elder brothers and younger brothers. The word きょうだい "kyôdai" means brothers and sisters and it is sometimes useful, but using it for a specific brother/sister is as strange as using the English word sibling for him/her. It depends on language what information you have to give when you talk about a sibling. You have to clarify his/her sex and age compared to you in Japanese, while in English you don't have to tell his/her age. You might be interested to know that in Indonesian you have to clarify only his/her age because it has a word for elder sibling and another word for a younger sibling.
|Romanization:||o tô to|
|Romanization:||o mô to|
Note: The word そふぼ "sohubo" means grandfather and grandmother.
Note: Another word こども "kodomo" is also commonly used for a child, but it often means all minors, not only your sons and daughters.
|Romanization:||mu su ko|
|Romanization:||mu su me|
Note: If you want to distinguish grandsons and granddaughters, you can use まごむすこ "magomusuko" (grandson) and まごむすめ "magomusume" (granddaughter), but simply saying まご is more common.
|Romanization:||i to ko|
|Romanization:||i to ko|
8.4.2. Kinship address termsThe following words are used to call elder members of your family, like dad and mom. It is also good to use them to refer to other people's families, but using them to talk about your own family in formal situations sounds childish. Use given names to call younger members of your family.
|Romanization:||o tô sa n|
Note: The first お "o" is a common politeness prefix for nouns, and removing it sounds you are matured. The last さん "san" is the same as the Japanese equivalent of Mr. and Ms., but it's a part of the word, and you can't remove it.
|Romanization:||o kâ sa n|
|Romanization:||o nî sa n|
|Meaning:||elder brother (address term)|
Note: Children prefer the word おにいちゃん "onîtyan". The last ちゃん "tyan" is a childlike version of さん.
|Romanization:||o nê sa n|
|Meaning:||elder sister (address term)|
Note: Children prefer the word おねえさん "onêtyan".
|Romanization:||o zî tya n|
Note: The word おじいさん "ozîsan" is often used for old men in general, not necessarily your grandfather.
|Romanization:||o bâ tya n|
Note: The word おばあさん "obâsan" is often used for old women in general, not necessarily your grandmother.
|Romanization:||o zi sa n|
|Meaning:||uncle (address term)|
Note: This word is also used for general middle-age men.
|Romanization:||o ba sa n|
|Meaning:||aunt (address term)|
Note: This word is also used for general middle-age women.
The interesting point of the kinship address terms is that the viewpoint is usually fixed on the youngest member of the family. For example, it is not uncommon at all for a man with a child to call his wife おかあさん "okâsan" and for his wife to call her husband おとうさん "otôsan" because their word usage is based on their child's viewpoint. If they live with his or her parents, they would call their father おじいちゃん "ozîtyan" and their mother おばあちゃん "obâtyan".
- Comparison of kinship terms (in Japanese)