While some sweet nicknames are similar in many languages of the world, for example my “sweetheart”, my “little angel” or “baby”, there are many others which are much more unusual.
How would you feel if your partner or spouse would call you a cabbage, pumpkin, flea, elephant or egg with eyes? In some cultures people would be honoured.
The BBC (British Broadcasting Cooperation) has picked out some the most unusual nicknames, with which lovers express their affection in different countries and languages around the world.
In France, both men and women, often say chou to their loved ones, which literally means “cabbage”. They say that its roundness relates to the world; and its size also resembles a child’s or a baby’s head. The term can also be duplicated – chouchou, which means “dear”, and is often used by Carla Bruni to call her husband, former French President – Nicolas Sarkozy.
A similar word, for addressing loved ones, is also used in Brazil and Portugal. The word Chuchuzinho literally means a “small pumpkin”, but we often find it in the lover’s vocabulary. Among those who addressed their loved ones with terms of plants are also the Indonesians. They use the words Buah hatiku, which mean the “fruit of my heart”. It was a word often used in a romantic sense, but today it is most commonly used to express the love somebody shares with a child.
Spain is the nation that expresses love with words related to food. As the British use the word honey, similarly Spaniards addresses their loved ones by Terron de Azucar, meaning a “cube of sugar”. Japanese men call their spouses’ tamago kata no kao, which means an “egg with eyes”. This is a great compliment, because an oval face in the form of an egg is considered very attractive in Japanese culture.
My flea, my gazelle, my elephant
However, sweet nicknames are also often borrowed from the animal world. French men sometimes call their women ma puce, which means “flea”. It is not entirely clear from where this expression comes from, but it may be associated with primitive man. In those days they were removing fleas from each other, which was quite a pleasant and intimate process.
In Arabian countries, men name their women Ghazal, which means “gazelle”. They sing songs, how a hunter could die of love if he only once saw a beautiful gazelle. In Thailand, loved ones are named after an animal which is most precious to them, the elephant. Chang Noi or “elephant” is therefore a term lovers want to hear in Thailand. In Russia, women call their men golubčik, and men call their women golubuška, which means “pigeon” or “dove”.
Chinese people use a slightly more complicated expression Chen Luo Jan, which means “sinking fish” or “geese descending”. The term derives from the legend associated with the greatest beauty in Chinese history, Chi Chi. She was so beautiful that when she looked in the fishpond, fish became so confused that they forgot to swim and sank to the bottom. When she saw geese above her, they were so stunned by her beauty that they forget to wave their wings and descended to the ground. If a man wants to tell a woman she is as beautiful as Chi Chi, he has to use the expression Chen ju Luo Jan.