When Turkish people speak to children, they often address them with the kinship term that the child is supposed to use for the speaker. For example a mother may call her child "anneciğim" ("my dear mother").

I've been told that something similar exists in Arabic, Italian, Greek, and Russian, at least for the word "mother" (in Turkish it works with many kinship terms). But, to my knowledge, it doesn't exist in English or French for example.

Is there a name for this phenomenon? How common is it? Is it confined to a geographical region? In short, how can I find more information about it?

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    @NickNicholas In Turkish, it works at least with mother (anne, ana), father (baba), older sister (abla), older brother (ağabey), grandmother (nine), grandfather (dede), and maternal and paternal aunt (teyze/hala) and uncle (dayı/amca). Almost always with a diminutive suffix (for endearment) and a 1st p.s. possessive, which become "-cİğİm" when combined. – cyco130 Jul 28 '18 at 8:52
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    Welp, then it's quite different. I wouldn't be surprised if Greek borrowed the usage of anneciğim (the diminutive is optional, the possessive isn't); but the other relative terms do not occur there. – Nick Nicholas Jul 28 '18 at 9:21
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    @A.M.Bittlingmayer No. "I am your mother" would require a 2nd p.s. possessive before the copula. And also, the 1st p.s. copula is -(y)İm while 1st p.s. possessive is -(İ)m. With "anne", "anneyim" is "I'm (a) mother" and "annem" is "my mother". Even though they have the same form after the diminutive -cik, the possessive is stressed (babacıĞIM, my dear father) while the copula is not (babaCIğım, I'm a little father). There's no possibility confusion. – cyco130 Jul 28 '18 at 10:00
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    Thanks. Re geographical boundaries, I don't think I've heard this in South Slavic, East Slavic, Eastern Armenian or Persian. – Adam Bittlingmayer Jul 28 '18 at 10:07
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    Something similar exists in Arabic, Italian, Greek, and Russian. - Same for Romanian. – Lucian Aug 10 '18 at 5:37

I wondered about this and answered my own question on the German StackExchange. The phenomenon exists in German dialects, but not Standard German (with the possible exception of Pate; see below). I found one article by Germanist Wilhelm Schoof, "Die deutschen Verwandtschaftsnamen" (Zeitschrift für hochdeutsche Mundarten, 1900, Link), where he coins the term Rückgabe der Anrede ("giving back the address"). As far as I can tell, this term has not caught on. Since the article is in German, it might not be useful to you, but I have still included some page references.

  • Pate "godfather" can refer to the godchild. This meaning is still listed in modern dictionaries. (WDG)

  • Swiss German Äni "grandfather" can refer to the grandchild (p. 263 f.). (Idiotikon)

Cases where the child reverses a term:

  • In Middle Rhenish dialects, Nichte "niece" can refer to the aunt (p. 267). (DWB has nyecht "Mutterschwester", i.e. aunt)

  • Middle High German Neffe "nephew" can refer to the uncle (p. 260). (DWB)

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    Very interesting! To add to this, Enkel is originally a diminitutive of Ahn (well, Old High German ano, 'grandfather'). One hypothesis is that this has to do with an old belief that the soul of the grandfather lives on in his grandson (and the soul of the grandmother in her granddaughter), while another states this "Anredetausch" is not unusual: e.g., nephews have been called uncles by their uncles (the other way round is also documented, as you've mentioned). It's not common in present-day German anymore, but there are still traces of it, especially in various dialects. – Cyreth May 23 at 6:47

"to my knowledge, it doesn't exist in English or French for example"

Actually, my father, born in a Francoprovençal village, often called me "mon petit père" or "mon gros père" (I used to be a chubby baby) until I was 5 or 6, and he was not alone in doing so with his sons.

My father-in-law, a Picard farmer with a lot of dialectal phrases in his French, always called his grandsons "mon tcho père" (tcho = petiot), and so do his sons today with both their sons and nephews (and maybe other kids).

Note that neither me nor any other French people I know ever called their father "mon gros père," however chubby.

Children may call their father "mon petit papa" (typically with an overtender tone, to introduce a sensitive request), though not "mon petit père", while French fathers will not call them "mon petit papa".

Note also that "mon petit père" may have a derogatory use between male adults, like a euphemistic version of "dirtball" or "scumbag" (Dis donc, mon petit père, tu croyais me rouler?).

Nothing for mothers, brothers or any other kinship term, to the best of my experience.

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