Thursday, August 17, 2006

Grand Naming Conventions

I saw a posting on Blogging Baby about what to call the grandparents. It was interesting to see all the different names, especially from multi-cultural families.

Growing up, my parents called my dad's parents nanay and tatay, which mean mother and father in Tagalog. My sister and I grew up calling our paternal grandparents nanay and tatay, along with all our paternal cousins. Our maternal grandparents were called lola and lolo, which mean grandmother and grandfather. Great aunts, uncles and respected elders were referred to as lola (name) and lolo (name).

Since my son is half-Filipino/half-American it works out very well. My parents are called lola and lolo. But it could have been more complicated on my wife's side since her parents spilt up when she was young and both remarried. My wife's parents also have 4 other grandchildren. So her mom and step-dad are known as grandma and grandpa. And her dad and step-mom are known by their nicknames, Binno and Kugs. My father-in-law got his nickname from early childhood when his younger brother kept pronouncing his name Binno, instead of B.J. (Billy James). His wife's nickname is a derivative of her last name.

Hopefully, I'll be a grandparent some day and they'll call me Lolo Newbie. ;)

What did you call your grandparents? What do your kids call (or will call) their grandparents? What do you want to be called when you're a grandparent?


thisislarry said...

great subject. I find the chinse method of precisely naming your relatives immensely confusing at family gatherings, where everybody has a billion names, depending on their relation with whoever is greeting them....

My mom's parents were wai-gong and wai-puoa (mandarin chinese). I never knew my dad's father, but his mom (whom I only met once) was puoa-puoa (mandarin chinese).

My kids call my parents yeh-yeh and nai-nai (mandarin chinese) and they call my wife's parents grandpa and grandma (colloquial english) tho they are as chinese as my folks.

honglien123 said...

Vietnamese is also really really nuts about this subject. On the one hand it can get really confusing if you don't know what all the different pronouns (which Wikipedia has compiled a decent although incomplete list here On the other hand, it's kinda nice to know exactly how a person's related to you. I mean, instead of saying "Oh, she's my dad's younger brother's wife" you could just say "She's my thiem."

However, my parents being modern Asian Americans have taken pitty on their poor grandchildren and so most of the time the kids (or kid since only one talks at the moment) call them grandma and grandpa. Otherwise, it's Ba Ngoai and Ong Ngoai. J's parents are also called Grandma and Grandpa, but J's step dad likes to be called Papa too. All the grandparents are called Co whether they are on the Vietnamese, Japanese or Korean side (great grandparent in Vietnamese) simply cuz it's shorter than great grandpa or great grandma.

Anonymous said...

the kids call me ex-husband's parents: granma and papa (they're american)

my parents are: hommie (for grandmoter in korean: hal-mon-ee) and hobbie (had-ab-o-gee for grandgather in korean)

i hope to be called "cool" of whatever the vernacular equivilent will be when it's my turn to be a grandma.

Anonymous said...

Hey NewbieDad, from a fellow Pinoy to another, what do you mean when you say your son is half-Filipino/half-American?

Newbie Dad said...

Hi Ka_Jun,

My parents are from the Philippines, but I was born here. My wife is Caucasian. So I guess a more accurate way to describe my son is half-Filipino/half-Caucasian.

Anonymous said...

My kids call my husband's Hispanic parents "Nana & Tata" and my Filipino parents "Grandma & Papa". They call my parents that because my sister's kids call my parents that. And they call their Mexican great-grandparents "Bisabuelo and Bisabuela" -- these are my MILs parents. They call my FILs Puerto Rican mom "Bisabuela" as well.

Anonymous said...

Pumpkin calls my Filipino parents Nana and Tata and calls her dad's parents Grandma (asian american) and Grandpa (caucasian american) but it sounds like "ban ma" and "bom pa".

Robyn said...

i called my chinese grandparents gunggung and popo. i think it's for maternal grandparents. i guess it's cantonese?

i called my japanese grandparents grandma and grandpa.

but i also called my babysitter Grandma Yamamoto.

my husband's family (Hawaiian, Chinese, English, Dutch, Portuguese, I forget the rest) has all kinds of creative stuff. His mother is called Deah, which is what one of the older neighbor ladies on her street was called. His father is called Papa. Since they're divorced, they've had to be creative for their husbands and wives. The most successful has been just Uncle or Aunty, the generic term used for any elder.

Oanh said...

I'm Viet so, like honglien123, I call my maternal grandparents Ba Ngaoi and Ong Ngoai.

My father's side, however, is where it gets confusing. You see, they're a small ethnic Chinese, long time resident of Viet Nam.

We call my paternal grandmother (now deceased) 'Ma' and paternal grandfather 'Cong'. 'Ma' is also the word for mother, so we call our mother 'Um' which is what most people usually call their older female but distant rellies respectfully.

In Australia, we have gone one odd step further and my mother is 'Ma' to ALL of her grandchildren, not just the grandchildren who are the children of her sons. What my nieces and nephews call their mums & dads varies but is, sadly I think, mostly 'Mum'.

I hope my child will call me 'Um', but my child will be half me and half my non-Asian partner ... so, who knows?

Great topic!

Anonymous said...

Lovely topic. If you think it can be confusing and complicated when born to it, try naming when you are incorporating it into your family customs.

My husband and I are of assorted white american descent. We have two wonderful children adopted from China.

I called my maternal grandmother "nana" and my maternal grandfather "grandpa." When we adopted our children, my mother specifically requested that she be called whatever one calls a maternal grandmother in Chinese.

Okay, not a problem, lovely sentiment, we thought. We asked various Chinese friends, told them our 1st to be was from Northern mainland China and they came up with laolao. If you go to some website like Mandarin tools and check the dictionary, there are about 9 definitions in the dictionary for grandmother. Laolao is at the top with 2 pronounciations and is described as an informal way of saying mother's mother. We told this to my mother and she became laolao.

Here we are nearly five years down the road. My mother basically contends that we have told the children to call her something bad/rude. Per her, all the Chinese people my mother has spoken to [you know, people she meets on the street and in line at the grocery store] tell her that NO ONE calls their grandmother lao lao and further, that it is a bad thing to say. And since she is basically paranoid, she believes these people in the street instead of us.

Sigh. My mother in law is just grammy. She does not think that it has any bad implications.

Anonymous said...

A little off topic - but I was reading a moomyblog about choosing games for kids. I had no idea that in Hawaii they go 'junk-ana-po' and 'jan-ken-po' in Japan. In the Philippines, kids go
'Jak-n-poy'. Must be a Chinese game, I guess. The whole thing in the philippines is:

hale, hale hoy
sinong matalo
siyang unggoy!

The last two lines basically mean - 'whoever loses, they are a monkey.'

I figure someone at Rice Daddies might know - where does the Jak 'n poy come from?

mukuge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mukuge said...

I called my late grandpa from mom's side as 'opa' (a loanword from Dutch) and my existing grandma from dad's side as 'ompung' (a Batak term used for direct grandmothers). My mom came from Manado (hence the Dutch influence) and my dad from the North Sumatra hinterlands, and I was born and bred in Jakarta, Indonesia.

My kids would most likely call their grandparents from my side as 'ompung doli' (that's grandpa) and 'ompung' (grandma) as my mom has proudly proclaimed that she looks forward to the day she is called an ompung (she's a naturalised Batak, given her ongoing marriage to my dad.) As for my kids' grandparents from their father's side, I have no idea... as I don't even have a boyfriend at the moment :p

When it's my turn to be a grandma, I don't mind to be called anything that equates grandma in any language... but one thing for sure is I don't want to be called 'hey you, old hag'. I will be old, but these babies will need to learn too that they better not call older people old hags. Heee...