Valentine’s Day: pet names from around the world | Culture | Art, music and lifestyle reports from Germany | Deutsche Welle

Chayote, light green fruit

Valentine’s Day: pet names from around the world | Culture | Art, music and lifestyle reports from Germany | Deutsche Welle


There are long queues in front of flower shops, people with boxes of chocolates under their arms and maybe a love letter – lovers in many countries around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

This goes hand-in-hand with the fondness clause reserved for that particularly significant other, and each culture has a different idea of ​​what an ideal pet name should look like.

Heart and liver: body parts are essential

If the Chinese call you “heart and liver”, there is no need to be offended. Instead, you might want to feel flattered and think hard about whether that person is “that person.” Calling someone Xingan, which is “xingan” in Chinese, is a symbol of affection and love. Just like a person cannot survive without these two organs, “XinGeng” is a person you can’t imagine without these two organs.

In East African countries, Swahili speakers also turn to body parts to express love. Hugs are guaranteed if you call someone “nyongo mkalia ini”. “Nyongo” means gallbladder and “ini” means liver. “Mkalia” can be translated as “sitting”. If you are someone’s “nyongo mkalia ini”, you are their literal meaning. The gallbladder sits on the liver.

Chayote, light green fruit

a chayote

The gallbladder is located below the liver, and since these two organs are difficult to separate, it is easy to apply it to married life. So what better way to show love than whispering “nyongo mkalia ini” in someone’s ear?

Pet names that involve eyes sound a little more romantic. Romanians call their loved ones “treasure or light in my eye”, while in Turkey they might say “deer eye” (Ceylan gözlĂĽm).

Love “passes through the stomach”

Besides flowers, chocolate is also a popular gift on Valentine’s Day because love and food go hand in hand – according to a German proverb, “love passes through the stomach”. Pet names in some countries imply that food is love, and love is food: “my licorice” (dropje) in Dutch and “plum” (sveske) in Danish. Licorice is a Dutch favorite, so this pet name seems logical. Danish plums sound more exotic, which may be the intent. In English, it is common to hear people say “pumpkin”, “cupcake” or “sweetie”.

It gets interesting when you turn to French-speaking countries. French cuisine has a strong reputation, including world-renowned wines and refined dishes. However, a favorite pet name is “my cabbage” (mon chou), of course, the intent is the same, it’s a pet name.

In Brazil, on the other hand, people might call their beloved ion “chuchu,” a light green pear-shaped tropical gourd also known as chayote. It cannot be stored for long periods of time, which is probably why it is less well known in Europe. In Latin America, however, people eat it all the time. Used in savory and sweet dishes, the roots and seeds are considered delicious, the leaves are edible, and the plants are eaten raw, fried, roasted, and candied. A generalist, just like love.

Two swans on the lake with their heads close together and their necks forming a heart

Swans form bonds that last a lifetime

Italy is another country famous for its food. “A man without a woman is like pasta without parmesan” is an Italian saying. The nickname “Little Onion” seems a bit odd. Sure, anything sautĂ©ed with onions is delicious, but chopping isn’t always a joy. The same goes for love – you have to work hard to make it taste and eventually work.

Speaking of soulful names involving food: In Spanish, “my fat man” should be a nickname. It seems like a couple has to look back on years of being together to do this, because honestly, how would you react if you were called “fat” on a first date, no matter what your intentions were?

Rabbit and Lamb

In Germany, for example, classic pet names include “Schatz” (treasure), “Hase” (rabbit), “Mäuschen” (little mouse) or “Bärchen”. In Russian, people like to call their loved ones “my swallow”, while in Polish it is “Zabka” (little frog).

In Bulgaria, the choice of pet name depends on the status of the relationship. In young love, partners are often affectionately referred to as “little lambs,” a term that eventually becomes “sheep” over time. Bulgarians have a plan B for Valentine’s Day, if love hasn’t come. According to the Orthodox calendar, February 14th is Trifon Day, a celebration that pays tribute to winemakers – with plenty of wine on offer. Bulgarians celebrated and drank a lot that day, either for love or heartbreak.

Two hoopoe on extremities sharing a sip

Courtship between hoopoe birds

Some languages ​​come up with terms that use small words to the fullest—the smaller the scale, the more loved one is. Poles, for example, are true masters of little people and usually use them as names. A loved one also means to be a “sloneczko” or little sun.

It seems that researchers haven’t really analyzed the phenomenon of being pet names.

“It’s clear that very questionable words can function as pet names,” said Dietlind Kremer, head of the name advisory service at the University of Leipzig. “The intimate world of names,” she told DW. “More research is needed, particularly “on constant or changing relationships, seniority, affiliation, and collaboration at eye level”.

In the meantime, whatever you call your lover, remember the words of the 20th century German writer Hermann Hesse: “Happiness is love and nothing else.”

This article was translated from German. The original text was prepared with the help of numerous DW colleagues from around the world.

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