kolmapäev, mai 10, 2006

Estonian word of the week - käli

No, not Kalli - something you say when you hug someone. Not Kali - a fermented bread beverage. But Käli. This is the Estonian word for sister-in-law, although I am not sure all Estonians know it.

The Käli creates an interesting new look at your relationship with your wife. After falling in love with your wife, you may come to think that all her family members may be in some way similar to her as they are born of the same blessed genetic union.

How untrue. What your in-laws teach you is that genetics do exist, but they aren't everything. Consider that my wife was born 16 months before her sister followed her onto planet Earth. Yet the two of them turned out significantly different.

For example, Elo, my käli, is a confectioner. She works in a bakery. She knows a lot about cakes and has a highly informed opinion of baked goods. I bet she can tell the difference between breads baked in different locations.

Elo also likes the Pet Shop Boys a lot. Maybe less in recent years, I don't know. But I do know that she doesn't have many CDs, but of the CDs she does have, a plurality of them are made by the Pet Shop Boys.

She's also taller than my wife. In fact, you may come to see Elo as the older sibling because she has the authority that comes with height. Elo moved to Tartu when she was a young woman and stayed. She has lived in the same apartment for most of that time. Her daughter, husband, and mother-in-law are all Tartlased. She seems like a fairly stable person.

Compare that with my wife who is a journalist and has the critical eye of a suppressed editor-in-chief. She is also addicted to real estate and planning trips. In fact, I believe that at some point in her life she may become a travel agent, not for the salary, but for the pleasure of searching websites across the Internet looking for the best last minute prices.

She is also the young woman who - in her mid 20s - felt an enormous urge to become a bum sweep over her. With pocket atlas in hand she found herself sleeping in less-than-savory conditions from the Canary Islands to Israel to India. She was trained as a journalist - but she sold beads in marketplaces across Europe. When we were in Brighton, England at about 2 am once, I had to convince her that it really wasn't a good idea to hangout on some stranger's roof. And I was the party pooper.

Finally, Epp - my wife - is shorter than Elo. And she looks a little different. They have some things in common. For example, they both are intrigued by Eurovision, Astrology, witchcraft, and soap operas. So, I wouldn't be surprised if both wound up being practioners of maausk in old age and spent their last days picking berries and worshipping rocks.

Why am I telling you this? Because the Estonian word of the week is käli. Maybe you can take a little time out today to think about your kälid as well.

(PS - those ladies aren't really my wife and her sister. They are two famous Estonian twins)

7 kommentaari:

Eppppp ütles ...

As for 2 am in Brighton...
Im still convinced that its a good way to spend a warm night in a safe place for free - you have to find a small appartment house with a flat roof (soon youˇd have eye to notice which kind of buildings are the best), you´d go upstairs, there is a special unlocked door to the roof... and there you are. Good trick for backpackers, esp if you have your own sleeping bag with you.
I have never used it alone, though. Im not that crazy. But I have used it with some backpackers-friends.

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Martasmimi ütles ...

Oh, my god!!!

Anonüümne ütles ...

ONU – ema vend
TÄDI – ema õde
LELL – isa vend
SÕTSE – isa õde
NÄÄL – naise vend
KÄLI – naise õde
KÜDI – mehe vend
NADU – mehe õde
NÕBU – onu, lelle, tädi või sõtse laps
KÄLIMEES – naise õemees
VÄIMEES – tütre mees
MINIA – poja naine
ÄMM – naise ema, mehe ema
ÄI – naise isa, mehe isa
LANGUD – mehe ja naise vanemad omavahel

luize ütles ...
Blogi administraator eemaldas selle kommentaari.
Eppppp ütles ...

Luize says that the word "käli" is not that used, but the word "kälimees" (your sisters husband) is more common.

I, on the other hand, don´t use and don´t hear these words. Nor "käli" neither "kälimees"...

In English, yes, there is one simple way to refer, a suffix (or however yuopu name it) "in law". In Estonian, we have special words that you have to memorize BUT as I said the most of them are archaic, old fashioned.
What we really use from the list that anonymous gave: only "minia", "väimees", "ämm" and "äi".

Its cool to know the rest of them, but some Estonians won´t undesrtand you when you use them.

Let me give the real everyday words for Justin:

VENNANAINE - sister in law (your brother´s wife)
ÕEMEES - brother in law (your sister´s husband)
ÕETÜTAR, VENNATÜTAR - niece (your brothe s or sister´s daughter)
ÕEPOEG, VENNAPOEG - nephew (your brother´s or sister´s son)

I would call my husband´s brother´s wife also "sister-in-law" in English, Im not sure how would I call her in Estonian? Perhaps clumsy but very clear "MEHE VENNANAINE"

And we have no word for "in laws" - meaning your husband´s or wife´s birth family together, esp parents. You can say "mu MEHE VANEMAD" or "mu NAISE VANEMAD".

Its my humble opinion... Let´s see what our language expert Leeloo thinks ;)

Elina ütles ...

Nice to know now who is käli. :-)