Please tell me how to say "little sister" and "little brother" in different languages.
April 15, 2011 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for translations for the phrases "little sister" and "little brother" in any language you might know. I'm interested in both literal translations and any affectionate slang-y translations. Many thanks!
posted by ersatzkat to Grab Bag (53 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
hermanito/a in spanish. hermano/a is the root, and ito/a is a diminutive.
posted by zug at 1:22 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Serbian: little sister is sestrica (pronounced "seh-stritsa"), little brother is bata (pronounced "bah-tuh").
posted by Dragonness at 1:22 PM on April 15, 2011

Dutch: zusje (little sister) and broertje (little brother). Sister and brother as in siblings are zus en broer. Sister and brother as in religious orders or the nursing profession are zuster and broeder. Zuster is sometimes used for the sibling kind, but broeder isn't.
posted by rjs at 1:24 PM on April 15, 2011

Dutch: little sister is zusje (pronounced zuhsya) and little brother is broertje (pronounced broorcha).
posted by likeso at 1:24 PM on April 15, 2011

what rjs said...
posted by likeso at 1:24 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

քույրիկ - Armenian for little sister
եղբայրիկ - Armenian for little brother
posted by k8t at 1:25 PM on April 15, 2011

spanish is already covered so um... Japanese!

imouto - younger sister
otouto - younger brother.
posted by yeolcoatl at 1:30 PM on April 15, 2011

deirfiúr bheag - little sister.
deartháir beag - little brother.

Irish, but I warn you that my Irish is from a long time ago and was never above rusty.
posted by knapah at 1:34 PM on April 15, 2011

In French :
little sister : petite soeur, soeurette
little brother : petit frère, frérot
posted by domi_p at 1:39 PM on April 15, 2011

妹妹 (meimei (pronounced like "maymay", basically)) - younger sister
弟弟 (didi ("deedee")) - younger brother
posted by Vibrissa at 1:39 PM on April 15, 2011

Does dialectal English count? "Our kid" in northern England, for both. (But generally more for brothers.)
posted by holgate at 1:41 PM on April 15, 2011


soră mai mică - SOAR-uh my MEEK-uh
frate mai mic - FRAHT-ay my MEEK or mezin (not sure of pronunciation on this one, it means youngest)
posted by jessamyn at 1:44 PM on April 15, 2011


Sorellina - little sister
Fratellino - little brother
posted by lydhre at 1:44 PM on April 15, 2011

Portuguese (Brazil):

little sister: maninha
little brother: maninho
posted by TheGoodBlood at 1:44 PM on April 15, 2011

My wife and her Ecuadorian family say ñañito and ñañita rather than hermanito/a. They might use hermano for a friend with whom they are close, and ñaño for an actual brother. And as zug noted, -ito and -ita make it diminutive. Nya-NYEE-to and Nya-NYEE-ta, incidentally.
posted by troywestfield at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2011

In Japanese, imōto for "little sister" and otōto for "little brother."

Imōto is from imo + hito, "older or younger sister (from the p.o.v. of a brother) + person", taking over from just plain imo during the Heian period.

Otōto is from oto + hito, "younger sibling of same sex + person."
posted by No-sword at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2011

In Vietnamese:

Little sister: em gái
Little brother: em trai

When talking to one another, you would just say 'em' regardless of the gender of the younger sibling. But 'em' is also a common term of affection for anybody younger than you, regardless of blood relationship. It's also a very common term of endearment between a man and his lover.

In practice, this is less confusing than it sounds in practice; it's all about the context!
posted by thisisnotbruce at 1:47 PM on April 15, 2011

Urdu/Hindi (written romanized, but if you'd like me to put it down as the actual script let me know!):

Choti behhen - little sister
Chota bahee - little brother
posted by raintree at 1:47 PM on April 15, 2011

братик [bratik] - diminuative for brother
сестричка [sestrichka] - diminuative for sister

Маленький Брат [malenkiy brat] - little brother literal
маленькая сестра [malenkaya sestra] - little sister literal
posted by pyro979 at 1:49 PM on April 15, 2011

In Tagalog, little brother is "utol" but the word is very informal and almost deprecating. There's no common-use word for little sister (other Tagalog-speakers, correct me if I'm wrong) so the generic "kapatid," or sibling, works fine.

To be thorough, "kuya" and "ate" mean older brother and older sister respectively.
posted by brownpau at 1:52 PM on April 15, 2011

ittle-lay ister-say and ittle-lay other-bray (ig-pay atin-lay)
posted by iconomy at 1:54 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

nisim (ni-SEEM) - younger brother or sister
(Gender is differentiated for older siblings, but not younger siblings.)
posted by teg at 2:09 PM on April 15, 2011

A slang-y name for a sister in Spanish in Ecuador is ñaña (nya-nya) and brother is ñaño (nya-nyo). The diminutives are ñañita and ñañito, but those can be used to mean either little as in younger or they can be the diminutive as a way of expressing affection. The same (about the meaning of the diminutive) is also true of hermanita and hermanito listed above, btw.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:13 PM on April 15, 2011

Bubby in the southeastern US for little brother. (Bubba, more often, is an older brother. In my experience.)
posted by phunniemee at 2:16 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Korean: [dohng seng] is applied to both genders.
posted by CancerMan at 2:17 PM on April 15, 2011

Norwegian is lillebror and lillesøster.
posted by flod logic at 2:19 PM on April 15, 2011

ukht sageera أخت صغيره
akh sageer أخ صغير
posted by Paquda at 2:30 PM on April 15, 2011


kleine Schwester
kleiner Bruder




posted by jedicus at 2:30 PM on April 15, 2011


little sister: motra e vogël
little brother: vëllai i vogël
posted by dubadubowbow at 2:32 PM on April 15, 2011

correction to arabic little sister: أخت صغيرة
posted by Paquda at 2:33 PM on April 15, 2011


little sister: thangachi
little brother: thambi
posted by peacheater at 2:43 PM on April 15, 2011


kız kardeş (little sister)
erkek kardeş (little brother)

"Kardeş" can also just be an informal address among friends--"Kardeşim" is like "My buddy."

fratineto (little sister) and frateto (little brother), the "-et" suffix makes smaller, the "-in" suffix makes female.
posted by besonders at 2:54 PM on April 15, 2011


little sister: aniathi
little brother: anian
posted by prenominal at 2:58 PM on April 15, 2011


Kaka mdogo - little brother
Dada mdogo - little sister

Turkana uses "ikaato" to indicate both "my little brother" and "my little sister."
posted by ChuraChura at 3:04 PM on April 15, 2011


adik: younger brother or sister
kakak: older brother or sister
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:11 PM on April 15, 2011

little sister: chwaer fach
little brother: brawd bach
posted by humph at 3:18 PM on April 15, 2011


younger sibling (any gender): дүү (doo)
younger brother: дүү эрэгтэй (doo eregtei - literally: little sibling with maleness!)
younger sister: дүү эмэгтэй (doo emegtei - literally: little sibling with femaleness)

Also, 妹妹 and 弟弟 are good for Mandarin, but also 小妹 and 小弟 - xiao mei and xiao di (xiao is pronounced like... erm... sheeiaow said as one quick syllable, mei = may, di = dee). Xiao means little, mei is younger sister, di is younger brother.
posted by thirteenkiller at 3:30 PM on April 15, 2011

St. Lucian French Creole (or Kwéyòl or Patwa):

little sister: ti sésé
little brother: ti fwè
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 3:37 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm assuming you want the form the phrase would have as the subject of a sentence (the nominative case).

Ancient (Attic) Greek:

younger brother: ἀδελφός νεώτερος
younger sister: ἀδελφή νεώτερα

diminutive of brother: ἀδελφίδιον


younger sister: soror minor
younger brother: frater minor
posted by Wemmick at 3:41 PM on April 15, 2011

In Modern Greek, little sister is "αδελφούλα" and little brother is "αδελφακι."
posted by phaedon at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2011


Little sister: Litla systir (cutesy: lilla sys).
Little brother: Litli bróðir (cutesy: lilli bró).
posted by Kattullus at 6:29 PM on April 15, 2011

Swiss German:
chliine Brueder / chliini Schwöschter
Brüederli / Schwöschterli
(spelling optional ... it's not really a (set of) written language(s), as such :)
posted by labberdasher at 7:45 PM on April 15, 2011


Litte brother: Chhota bhaiya

Little sister: Chhoti behan
posted by Tamanna at 7:54 PM on April 15, 2011

Just to clarify the Japanese listings, here are the kanji:

Younger sister - (imōto) - 妹
Younger brother - (otōto) - 弟
posted by gchucky at 8:30 PM on April 15, 2011

Portuguese (literal, dictionary, but also standard everyday usage):
irmãozinho = little brother
irmãzinha = little sister

Also potentially of interest:
caçula = youngest child
irmão caçula = younger brother
irmã caçula = younger sister
posted by texano at 8:32 PM on April 15, 2011

Oh, and Ainu (warning: I am not fluent):

ak = younger brother
matak = younger sister (from mat + ak, "woman" + "younger brother")

It seems that matak used to mean "younger sister from female p.o.v." and that there was a separate word, tures, for "younger sister from male p.o.v.", but I don't think that distinction is observed any more (to the extent that you can even reach that kind of conclusion w/r/t Ainu).

Matak is also used to mean "wife" in some contexts (esp. poetic ones e.g. yukar).
posted by No-sword at 9:02 PM on April 15, 2011

細妹 (sai3 mui3) is little sister and 細佬 (sai3 lou2) is little brother in cantonese
posted by onegoodthing at 12:06 AM on April 16, 2011


ប្អូនស្រី - (roughly) pa-oan sray - younger sister
ប្អូនប្រុស - (roughly) pa-oan proh - younger brother

(non-aspirated "p"s and that "a-oa" is a tripthong, not a vowel followed by a dipthong).

There are also words used only amongst royalty and in poetry - but there are lots of them, and being neither royal nor a poet, I don't know them well enough to give even passable transliterations.
posted by Ahab at 12:33 AM on April 16, 2011


Chhoto bhai - little brother
Chhoto bon (pronounced like "bone" but with a softer "o") - little sister
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:11 AM on April 16, 2011

In various German dialects you would get something like this--

Austro-Bavarian (some areas of Austria & Bavaria):

Swabian (Stuttgart area of Germany):

High Allemannic (most of Switzerland and some surrounding areas):
(in real life they would likely be pronounced more as labberdasher has spelled them out above--though don't forget to account for plenty of regional variation--but if written down more likely to be like this)

There are other possibilities in northern Germany, mostly more or less similar to the Dutch version rjs posted above.

Wikipedia has an article on diminutives outlining these possibilities & others.

Also any of these might be used as an affectionate diminutive rather than simply meaning 'younger brother' or 'younger sister'.
posted by flug at 8:41 AM on April 16, 2011

Spanish: hermanito/hermanita got covered already. The slang for those are simply manito and manita.
posted by Gilbert at 8:58 AM on April 16, 2011


pikkusisko - little sister
pikkuveli - little brother
posted by keijo at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2011

@brownpau I would probably use bunso (youngest sibling) instead of kapatid, if the OP's trying to emphasize age.
posted by Stephanie Duy at 2:45 PM on April 21, 2011

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