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Names of Relatives in Bangla

Family is very important to Bengalis. Large families often lived together, with many generations under one roof. Often, a young man would marry and he and his bride would continue to live in the family homestead. Such families were called "Joint families". This is becoming much less common with young people moving away to college and jobs, especially in the urban areas, forming what in Western cultures is known as the "Nuclear family."

There is, for example, no Bangla word for cousin. All cousins are called brothers or sisters with an adjective (like "paternal uncle's son") as in ও আমার মামাতো ভাই O amar mamatO bhai to describe a cousin who is your maternal uncle's son.

In Western cultures, a father's brother or mother's brother is an uncle, and a father's sister or mother's sister is an aunt. In Bangla, we have different names for siblings of our parents.

It was also considered impolite and disrespectful to use somebody's name when talking to them directly, especially one's husband or older relative. It is common to hear a wife call her husband ওগো, আমার কাছে আসবে? OgO, amar kachhe asobe? to ask her husband to come near her.

In a large family, each brother or sister was given a "placeholder" name for them to be referred to by their younger siblings. The most common were বড়দা, মেজদা, ছোড়দা boRoda, mejoda, chhORoda for the eldest, middle and youngest brother and the corresponding বড়দি, মেজদি, ছোড়দি boRodi, mejodi, chhORodi for sisters.

For the sake of completeness, I should mention that remarriages did take place usually by men whose wife had died. The prefix সৎ- sot^- means "step" in English. So you could derive a whole set of words like সৎমা, সৎবাবা, সৎদাদা, সৎভাই, সৎদিদি, সৎবোন, সৎমেয়ে, সৎছেলে sot^ma, sot^baba, sot^dada, sot^bhai, sot^didi, sot^bOn, sot^meye, sot^chhele to mean "stepmother, stepfather, stepbrother, stepbrother, stepsister, stepsister, stepdaughter and stepson" respectively.

The words for relatives' names as commonly used in West Bengal are summarized by generational markers in the list below. In Bangladesh, a few of the words are different, like abba for father and chacha for paternal uncle, but the basic pattern of naming is similar. For simplicity, I have not included Bangladesh variations in this list.

Grandparents

EnglishBangla
 maternal grandfather  দাদু 
 da‧du 
 maternal grandmother  দিদিমা 
 di‧di‧ma 
 paternal grandfather  ঠাকুরদাদা 
 Tha‧ku‧ro‧da‧da 
 paternal grandmother  ঠাকুরমা 
 Tha‧ku‧ro‧ma 
 grandfather-in-law  দাদাশ্বশুর 
 da‧dash‧wo‧shur 
 grandmother-in-law  দিদিশাশুরি 
 di‧di‧sha‧shu‧ri 

Parents

EnglishBangla
 mother  মা 
 ma 
 father  বাবা 
 ba‧ba 
 father-in-law  শ্বশুর 
 shwo‧shur 
 mother-in-law  শাশুরি 
 sha‧shu‧ri 

Parents' Siblings - Mother's side

EnglishBangla
 maternal uncle  মামা 
 ma‧ma 
 maternal aunt  মাসি 
 ma‧si 
 wife of maternal uncle  মামিমা 
 ma‧mi‧ma 
 husband of maternal aunt  মেসো 
 me‧sO 

Parents' Siblings - Father's side

EnglishBangla
 paternal uncle(older than father)  জেঠা 
 je‧Tha 
 paternal uncle(younger than father)  কাকা 
 ka‧ka 
 paternal aunt  পিসি 
 pi‧si 
 wife of paternal uncle(older)  জেঠিমা 
 je‧Thi‧ma 
 wife of paternal uncle(younger)  কাকিমা 
 ka‧ki‧ma 
 husband of paternal aunt  পিসে 
 pi‧se 

Us-current generation

EnglishBangla
 husband  স্বামী 
 swa‧mI 
 husband  বর 
 bo‧r 
 wife  স্ত্রী 
 strI 
 wife  বউ 
 bou 

Siblings

EnglishBangla
 elder brother  দাদা 
 da‧da 
 younger brother  ভাই 
 bha‧i 
 elder sister  দিদি 
 di‧di 
 younger sister  বোন 
 bOn 
 wife of elder brother  বউদি 
 bo‧udi 
 wife of younger brother  ভাইবউ 
 bha‧ibou 
 husband of sister  ভগিনীপতি 
 bho‧gi‧nI‧po‧ti 

Siblings-in-law

EnglishBangla
 brother of husband  ঠাকুরপো 
 Tha‧ku‧ro‧pO 
 sister of husband  ঠাকুরঝি 
 Tha‧ku‧ro‧jhi 
 brother of wife  শালা 
 sha‧la 
 sister of wife  শালি 
 sha‧li 

Cousins

EnglishBangla
 children of jeTha  জেঠতুতো দাদা/ভাই/দিদি/বোন 
 je‧Tho‧tu‧tO da‧da/bha‧i/di‧di/bOn 
 children of kaka  খুড়তুতো দাদা/ভাই/দিদি/বোন 
 khu‧Ro‧tu‧tO da‧da/bha‧i/di‧di/bOn 
 children of pisi  পিসতুতো দাদা/ভাই/দিদি/বোন 
 pi‧so‧tu‧tO da‧da/bha‧i/di‧di/bOn 
 children of mama  মামাতো দাদা/ভাই/দিদি/বোন 
 ma‧ma‧tO da‧da/bha‧i/di‧di/bOn 
 children of mashi  মাসতুতো দাদা/ভাই/দিদি/বোন 
 ma‧so‧tu‧tO da‧da/bha‧i/di‧di/bOn 

Children

EnglishBangla
 daughter  মেয়ে 
 me‧ye 
 son  ছেলে 
 chhe‧le 
 daughter-in-law  বউমা 
 bo‧uma 
 son-in-law  জামাই 
 ja‧ma‧i 

Grandchildren

EnglishBangla
 granddaughter  নাতনি 
 na‧to‧ni 
 grandson  নাতি 
 na‧ti 
 husband of granddaughter  নাতজামাই 
 na‧to‧ja‧ma‧i 
 wife of grandson   নাতবউ 
 na‧tobou 

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