Prompt # 4 – body

More Notes from the Canadian honey jar

May 05, 2017

One of the characters addresses him/herself as “Heart” > hodiye = stomach, > gela = body, > what other terms of endearment? (fikir, habibi)

What’s interesting here is how so many terms of endearment (I like the duality of that phrase, as in the words you use to express your love for someone, and the conditions under which you love someone), in Amharic, refer to parts of the body. Heart, stomach, body. I’m remembering a line from a love song too: yene hasab. (i LOVE the name ‘Hasabie’ for a character!) My thought? My consciousness? I wonder why that is. Is it to make up for how repressed our culture is about physical demonstrations of affection, about sex? It’s an interesting theory. We’re barely allowed to touch each other, in public and sometimes it feels like in private too, so we touch each other/claim each other with body words instead? Fikir, is the most common one I guess. Love. My love – yene fikir. It’s all about claiming, the possessive tense. I’ve never called anyone by a term of endearment in Amharic. Ever. Nor do I ever expect to. But never say never! If I were to pick one though, I would probably choose to just add ‘ye’ to his name. I would consider gela. I think that is the most unique one. So carnal without immediately seeming so. So far, in English, I’ve sort of managed ‘baby’, ‘boo’, ‘honey’, but only under my breath, only in passing, often jokingly. ‘Boo’ comes easiest’, in speech and writing. ‘Boo’ or ‘booboo’. I remember an ex who interpreted this as my not wanting to call him by his name (long story for another time), which was partially true, but I also did mean to be affectionate when I said ‘boo’. Just stick to the guy’s name.


When does that shift happen? From using the person’s name to address them, to replacing that name with a term of endearment, or a unique nickname only he/she possesses. Why not just use the person’s name? Alter it a little, maybe. Add a bit or nip a bit, but keep their name!

The one I like the most, for some reason is, babycakes. …

I’m overthinking this again, aren’t I?

If I looked at our emails again, I could see if I addressed him as ‘hodiye’ in the email body (body, ha!) too. It’s funny, that was probably when I was at my least ‘authentic Ethiopian’, using ‘hodiye’ all the time. I know I didn’t use it to address him in person. I’m sure of that. That much fakery I wasn’t capable of! Everyone has a limit.

So in terms of personal relationships, mine and those I’ve witnessed, these terms have stories attached to them:

It’s interesting though, this decision over what to call a lover/partner. It’s not something you decide consciously, from one day to the next. It happens gradually, on its own. The name chooses you (or rather chooses him or her). But it does mark a crossing over from one phase to another, doesn’t it? A gradual cross over, from the name everyone calls you by to the name only that one special person calls you by.

So, other terms of endearment I’ve heard used (there are many many countless that are specific to a couple, I’m sure): honey, love, muffin, snugglemuffin, cookie, babe, baby,

The ones you use for everyday, and the ones you use for special occasions.

[Yene geta, yene emebet. But these are not used in romantic contexts only.]

My ‘entry point’ to this topic though is how I personally have trouble using terms of endearment for anyone. I say ‘dear’ a lot, like an ole lady.

When I search google for ‘Amharic terms of endearment’ a lot of adoption blogs and articles come up. How interesting…

brainstorming here: nefse, yene tafach, yene mar, libe, yene hiwot, wude, wetete mare, sweetie, honey bunch and….

What else? Any you’ve coined with your own better half that you can share (& perhaps let me borrow)?

2 thoughts on “Prompt # 4 – body

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