According to some early Hebrew grammarians, the Biblical Hebrew word דוד (dod) specifically means "paternal uncle," while the term מסרף (misraf) means "maternal uncle" (for example, see Ibn Ezra and Kimhi to Amos 6:10). These two words for what in English we would simply call "uncle" are totally different from one another and even have different roots. Does this phenomenon occur in other languages as well? Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?
As @YellowSky pointed, a very large number of languages make this distinction. The Wiktionary lists don’t even scratch the surface, since most languages are not in Wiktionary, and the real number will be in the high hundreds at least, probably thousands. See the Wikipedia page on kinship terminology for an introduction. Note that out of the 6 types of kinship system in the traditional clssification, 4 would call a mother’s brother something different than a father’s brother. The "Sudanese" system, for example, includes not only Arabic and Turkish but even older versions of Romance languages (Latin mother’s brother avunculus, father’s brother patruus) and English (Old English mother’s brother ēam (from which 'eme'), father’s brother fædera). With Chinese languages also making this distinction (Mandarin: father’s older brother bófù, father’s younger brother shūfù, mother’s brother jiùfù), probably more humans speak languages with this trait than without.
Notice that the traditional classification in 6 types is very limited and fails to account for the diversity of indigenous languages worldwide, but even with that simple model you can already intuit how many ways of conceptualising kin there are in human languages.
Another concrete example to extend upon these already excellent answers is the Swedish language. Here, the terms are "farbror" for a paternal uncle (literally: "father-brother") and "morbror" for a maternal uncle ("mother-brother"). This principle extends to many other family relations, however; the terms for paternal and maternal aunt are faster (shortened from "fars syster", father's sister) and moster (from "mors syster", mother's sister), respectively, and for paternal grandparents it is farmor/farfar vs mormor/morfar for the maternal case. For cousins, however, the term is the same regardless of family connection, or even gender, unlike in languages like French and German.
In the Western variety of the Ukrainian language, maternal uncle is вуйко (vujko) [ˈʋui̯kɔ], and paternal uncle is стрий / стрийко (stryj / stryjko) [strɪi̯] / [ˈstrɪi̯kɔ]. Also, by analogy, maternal aunt is вуйна (vujna) [ˈʋui̯na], and paternal aunt is стрийна (stryjna) [ˈstrɪi̯na]. The Standard Ukrainian which is based on Central Ukrainian dialects doesn't make those distinctions, though. Most probably these words are borrowed from Polish, which has wuj and stryj as common words.
This question asks for a list of languages, but that would be difficult to put actual lists into an answer, since lots of languages make the maternal vs. paternal uncle distinction. Moreover, there are even more detailed distinctions, for example, Tamil distinguishes between பெரியப்ப (periyappa) “father’s elder brother”, சிதப்ப (citappa) “father’s younger brother”, அத்திம்பேர் (attimpēr) “father's brother-in-law”, that is Tamil distinguishes uncle's relative age and blood vs. in-law relationship.
Actually, rather long lists of those uncle varieties in different languages are there on Wiktionary:
Most languages spoken in South Asia make the distinction between MBro and FBro. Some further distinguish between FBros who are younger than one's father, and those who are older. "Father's sister's husband" and "Mother's sister's husband" also have distinct names. Here's a table of three South Asian languages. Transliteration follows iTrans:
|Father's elder brother||taau ताऊ||kaakaa काका||jeThu জেঠূ|
|Father's younger or twin brother||chaachaa चाचा||kaakaa काका||kaakaa কাকা|
|Mother's brother||maamaa मामा||maamaa मामा||maamaa মামা|
|Father's sister's husband||phuuphaa फूफा||aatobaa आतोबा||pisu পিসু (pronounced "pishu")|
|Mother's sister's husband||mausaa मौसा||mavsaa मावसा||meso মেসো (pronounced "mesho")|
Interestingly, Marathi makes no distinction between one's father's elder and younger brothers. Also, none of the languages makes a distinction between one's mother's elder and younger brothers. The asymmetric degree of specification between paternal and maternal relatives in Hindi and Bengali is probably attributable to the fact that one's father's brothers are often part of the household in the way that one's mother's are not. It is still not unusual in South Asia for brothers, along with their wives and children, to share a home.
Yellow Sky also mentions similar distinctions in Tamil. It's probably worth noting that in Tamil, the terms for female relatives are blurry by contrast: both "mother's younger sister" and "father's younger brother's wife" are referred to as chitti, சித்தி. The term is also used for "stepmother." (The word "chitti" became briefly famous in US political discourse when then-Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris used it to thank her "aunts" in her nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.)
Southern Sami (Finno-Ugric) has several words for distinguishing maternal and paternal uncles by relative age and blood relation:
- jyöne, maternal uncle
- jiekie, paternal uncle, but only when he's older than your father.
- tjietsie, paternal uncle when he's younger.
- maake, the man married to your father's sister (any age) or your your mother's older sister.
- vïjve, the man married to your mother's younger sister.
A similar set exists for aunts.
The reverse relation (uncle child) can be formed with the suffix "-uve", as can any other kinship term.
Arabic has separate words for:
- paternal uncle: 'Amm عَمّ
- maternal uncle: Khal خَال
In different dialects, accents, and languages of Iranian peoples:
|Paternal Uncle||عمو||عمو||کاکا||عامو - حاج عامو||عمو|
|Paternal Uncle||عمو - کاکا||آمو - تاته||مامه - آپو - تاته||اومو|
|Maternal Uncle||خالو - ماما - دایی||هالو||خالو - هالو||خلو|