Where was Bitu from?
September 17, 2008 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Before I knew anything about India, I dated an Indian guy named Bitu (long i, long u: bee-too). I remember him telling me that it wasn't his real name, that it was a nickname and it meant 'son' in his language (or, possibly, 'sun'). I neglected to ask what language that was... and now I really want to know.
posted by bookish to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
From Hindi:Family relations (wikipedia):
Son -- बेटा (beTa)

posted by randomstriker at 6:27 PM on September 17, 2008

Could it have been 'bittu'? It's pretty common in North India, probably punjabi. But the sound doesn't match, it's a short i and a hard double t.
posted by dhruva at 7:09 PM on September 17, 2008

The Marwari mom next door calls her eldest son that, though the pronunciation is closer to dhruva's description.
posted by Gyan at 10:35 PM on September 17, 2008

It's commonly used as a term of affection, like dear or darling would be in English.
posted by Wilder at 12:44 AM on September 18, 2008

Sounds like an Angilcized version of Bittu, alright. It's a pretty common North Indian term of endearment; I'd say your boy was either Punjabi or Marwari, I've heard it used among both communities.
posted by Tamanna at 6:31 AM on September 18, 2008

I thought I could narrow it down for you because I was pretty sure I had heard my Gujarati friend use that with her nephew as a diminutive form of beta. I was right, but when I asked her she said that it's also a hindi word, so I think that makes it a little bit harder to tie it down to one particular state.
posted by hue at 8:00 AM on September 18, 2008

I think it's likely that it's Bittu, only somewhat Anglicized (Americanized?). I was thinking it was probably related to 'beta' but wasn't sure, and was afraid it could even be south Indian and I'd be waaaay off. Thanks, everybody!
posted by bookish at 8:17 AM on September 18, 2008

OTOH, if it was Bichchu[a], then it's from the East; from Assam (or Bengal? Bhojpuri?), as memorialized in this old bi-lingual song. Then again, it has something to do with a Scorpion, so it's unlikely that your friend could have been called thus.
posted by the cydonian at 7:43 AM on September 21, 2008

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