"Twin" Translation
October 14, 2009 6:28 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for translations for the words "twin" and "sister". I have used babelfish and other sites but really want the pronunciation not just foreign writings I can't decipher. Also, translations in other languages not listed such as different Native American tribal translations. Help?!
posted by madmamasmith to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Spanish: "gemelo" (male, heh-mel-o) "gemela" (female, heh-mel-a) and "hermana" (air-ma-na)

French: "jumeau" (male, jum-uh) "jumelle" (female, ju-melle)
posted by downing street memo at 6:35 PM on October 14, 2009

"Sister" in French is "soeur" (tough to write out in English, but kind of like "sur")
posted by downing street memo at 6:36 PM on October 14, 2009

I am looking for translations for the words "twin" and "sister".

Note that not all languages have the same system of words to describe kin. Some are radically different, and "sister" or "twin" may have broader or narrower applications, and may differ depending on other facets of the relations between two people. If it's just "twin sister" you wanted, then that may be even more difficult as some languages might not distinguish that as different from a normal sister, or may even have a very unique term for it. If you want good translations, you need to state the exact relationship you're wishing to describe.
posted by Sova at 6:49 PM on October 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

"Sister" in Russian is "сестра," pronounced "syestra"
"Twin" is "близнец," pronounced "bliznyets"
"Twin" sister is (shockingly) "сестра-близнец"
posted by granted at 7:21 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

the quotation marks in that last one need to be slightly rearranged
posted by granted at 7:22 PM on October 14, 2009

Just a comment/addition: in russian, sister is pronounced somewhere between syestra and sestra, but much closer to "sestra". In the same way, twin is pronounced between "bliznyets" and "bliznets", closer to the latter; with the 'z' really about halfway between 's' and 'z' (but it's written with a letter corresponding to a 'z' in russian and so usually transliterated with a 'z').
posted by rainy at 7:53 PM on October 14, 2009

Note that not all languages have the same system of words to describe kin. Some are radically different, and "sister" or "twin" may have broader or narrower applications, and may differ depending on other facets of the relations between two people.

K'iche, which I just started studying recently, is one of those languages. Lemme lay out for you the way I learned it, with the disclaimer that I'm a rank beginner here.

Chaq' is what you call a younger sibling of the same sex — a man's younger brother, or a woman's younger sister. You said you wanted pronunciation; unfortunately, the q' is a sound we don't have in English. You know the glug-glug-glug noise you'd make in the back of your throat if you were imitating a bottle emptying? It's one of those glugs, more or less.

Atz is what you call an older sibling of the same sex — a man's older brother, or a woman's older sister.

Men call their sisters anab ("ah-KNOB"), regarless of age, and women call their brothers xibal, again regardless of age. The x is pronounced like English sh, so xibal is "she-BALL."

"Twin" is tiox ("tee-OWE-sh"), and I'm pretty sure it's not gender specific.

One last complication: "my," "your," "his," "her," and so on are prefixes in K'iche instead of independent words. The prefix for "my" is nu- before a consonant and w- before a vowel. So a woman would call her younger sister nuchaq' ("knew-CHA-*glug*") and her older sister watz (like the English word "watts"), a man would call any sister of his wanab ("wah-KNOB"), and anyone could say nutiox ("noo-tee-OWE-sh") for "my twin."
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:56 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

(and in both words, accent is on the last syllable; also google for websites that give you audio pronunciation in multiple languages).
posted by rainy at 8:02 PM on October 14, 2009

Not all concepts translate. In the Alaskan Inuit language Iñupiaq, there are separate words for older and younger sister, father's sister (aunt), and "sibling" (gender neutral).

There is an online Iñupiaq dictionary with some pronunciation help here.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:04 PM on October 14, 2009

Or what Sova said, shoulda read the thread.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:04 PM on October 14, 2009

Hindi: judwa (female is judwi) for twin. JUD-wa, stress on first syllable, "jud" pronounced exactly like "hood" except of course with a j sound, and "wa," I guess like the store (wawa). The "a" sound is a bit stretched out (no sudden stop at the end of the word.) For female, the end sound is "-wi" which is pronounced exactly like the English word "we."

Behen for sister (be-HEN, stress on the second syllable, which is pronounced like the bird. Short "be" sound like in "better")

The way the words appear in context varies, of course. If you're saying "We're twins," (or some variation thereof) you'd use "judwa." If you were saying "This is my twin (brother/sister)" you'd say "judwa bhai (which is brother)" or "judwi behen."
posted by asras at 8:14 PM on October 14, 2009

In Vietnamese, twin or twins is "sinh đôi" (sinh means to give birth, đôi is a pair). The word for older sister is "chị" and younger sister is "em". Twin sisters is "chị em sinh đôi".
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2009

In Japanese, imouto means "younger sister". Pronounced "ee-moh-toh" except that the second syllable takes longer than the other two.

ane means "older sister". Pronounced "ah-neh".

onee also means "older sister". Pronounced "oh-neh" except that the second syllable lasts longer.

ane and onee are invariably used with honorifics, -san or -chan or -sama. You also sometimes run into aneki and anego.

imouto doesn't take an honorific. (It's also used differently. ane and onee are used both descriptively and as forms of address, but imouto is only used descriptively.)

Japanese usage of family terms can be a bit confusing because the same words are also used to refer to, or address, people who are not related. A child will call its older sister "onee-chan", but that term can also be used for any older girl. (Likewise, ojisan means "uncle" but it also means "middle aged man" and a child or young adult can use it for a relative or for any middle aged man at all. So the meaning of the words varies quite a lot with context. And if you hear a child refer to an older girl as "onee-chan" you can't assume a family relationship.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:26 PM on October 14, 2009

In Swahili, twin is "pacha" and sister is "dada". Pretty straightforward pronunciation-wise, though the Swahili "d" is implosive, which means you have to kinda try to swallow air as you say it. I was never personally able to hear how this differs from an English "d" clearly enough to warrant trying to describe it.

"Dada" refers to biological sister, of any age, but is also very commonly used (at least in Tanzania, I don't know about other countries) to address women not related to you, usually with an affectionate or flirtatious undertone.
posted by geneva uswazi at 10:03 PM on October 14, 2009

In Polish sister would be siostra pronounced "syo-stra" (like bra).
Twin would be bliźniak pronounced "bleez-knack" - this is the masculine form.
Twin sister would be bliźniaczka pronounced "bleez-niah-ch-kah" (the ch like in cheese).
posted by jedrek at 10:11 PM on October 14, 2009

sister = sorella
twin = gemello
twins = gemelli
female twin = gemella
twin sister = sorella gemella
female twins = gemelle

And let me put in a word for Forvo.com for pronunciation -- you can hear native speakers say the words, which at least for Italian is far better than my ability to write the words out phonetically.
posted by katemonster at 10:53 PM on October 14, 2009

Hebrew: "Achot" = sister
posted by milestogo at 11:37 PM on October 14, 2009

twin = kaksonen [KUCK-soh-nen]
sister = sisko [SIS-koh] or sisar [more or less SEE-sar, but with short vowels and a rolling r], the latter is more formal
twin sister = kaksoissisko or kaksoissisar [KUCK-soys-SIS-koh, KUCK-soys-SEE-sar. Sometimes the second syllable is pronounced without the diphthong, "sos".]
posted by sively at 12:35 AM on October 15, 2009

in danish:

tvilling = twin
søster (suhs-ter, kind of close but not) = sister
posted by alchemist at 5:35 AM on October 15, 2009

In Korean, the words used to describe siblings depends on the speaker's gender and age in relation to that sibling.

If you're a girl, your older sister is "un-nee."
If you're a boy, your older sister is "noona."
For both girls/boys, your younger sibling is "dongsaeng." Adding "yeo-" or "nam-" specifies gender (female, male respectively) - so younger sister is "yeo-dongsaeng."

Twin is "sang deung ee." Twin sister is "yeoja sang deung ee" or "sang deung ee jameh." My aunt calls her older (by 3 minutes) twin sister "un-nee."
posted by yeoja at 5:59 AM on October 15, 2009

In Inuktitut, "two sisters" translates to nukariik [new-ka-reek].
posted by KathyK at 6:31 AM on October 15, 2009

In Twi (West African dialect of Akan), sibling is nua. It's a bit difficult to pronounce, the ua is something like wiaa, but not a super strong w sound. If you want to specify a female sibling, you add the word for female at the end: nuabaa. This term refers to all uterine sisters, and also all female cousins who are daughters of one's mother's sisters (and of course the definition of mother's sisters is the same as one's own). Confusing? Basically, if you think of there being a defined family unit, all of the women of the same generation who are members of that family call each other nuabaa (and their brothers call them that too), or just nua. (Just to make it more fun, people often refer to each other as nua or nuabaa in a friendly, affectionate, and/or respectful way.)

The word for twin is ataa. Pretty much how it looks, hold the double a a little longer. I'm not sure if people distinguish genders. I know that when people talk about one member of a twin-set in English, they call him/her a "half twin", which suggests that linguistically the twin-set is spoken of as a single unit.
posted by carmen at 7:59 AM on October 15, 2009

In Filipino: kapatid (kah-PAH-tid) is used as sibling/brother/sister, and kapatid ng babae (nang bah-BAH-eh) is just more specific ("female sibling"). Ate (AH-teh) is how you'd address an older sister.

Twin is kambal (KAHM-bahl).
posted by vespertine at 1:26 PM on October 20, 2009

Oy. That should have been kapatid na babae, not ng. Back to sleep for me.
posted by vespertine at 12:56 AM on October 21, 2009

« Older I want him to know I can relate to his dark side...   |   Khakis for the short torso Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.