Our Luxembourgish language adventures continue in the third proper instalment of the series - so grab a pen, warm up your vocal cords, and let's do this!
We’ve come a long way already (Luxembourg is tiny after all) and you should by now be able to introduce yourself, greet your fellow Lulus, and tell them a bit about your hobbies. Oh and most importantly perhaps, you should definitely have acquired the crucial skill of hurling insults like a hard-boiled local.... and talking about the coronavirus. Luxembourgers may have a bit of a reputation for being distant at first, but they undoubtedly care a great deal about their family. You may have guessed it: this week’s lesson is all about family members and relatives.
Let’s dive right in and start with basics. Picture this: your elderly landlord who doesn’t speak English (or probably pretends he doesn’t) calls you and demands to talk to your husband or wife. You partner, however, has just cracked open a cold bottle of Battin and begs you to tell the landlord they’re not home. We all know that you’re an absolute sweetheart, so you happily oblige. But what do you tell your landlord?
| Mäi Mann ass net doheem. || My husband isn’t home. |
| Meng Fra ass net doheem. || My wife isn’t home. |
The literal translations of Mann and Fra are man and woman. Most of the time the two words only translate into husband and wife if they’re preceded by a possessive pronoun. If you’ve ever dated a Luxembourger you know why. In other words, you can also use the same terms to talk about any man or woman. Here’s an example:
| Ech hunn e flotte Mann gesinn. || I’ve seen a handsome man. |
| Ech hunn eng flott Fra gesinn. || I’ve seen a pretty woman. |
The same rule of thumb applies if you want to talk about your son or daughter.
| Mäi Meedchen ass e Faulpelz. || My daughter is a slacker. |
| Mäi Jong ass e Faulpelz. || My son is a slacker. |
Meedchen and Jong mean son and daughter if, again, they’re preceded by a possessive pronoun. If they’re not preceded by a possessive pronoun, they just mean boy and girl. Luxembourgish also has two other words that, like in English, always mean daughter and son: Duechter and Fils (yep, we’ve stolen that one from the Frenchies). Duechter and Fils are a bit more formal (not to say posh) than Meedchen and Jong. If this is all to hard to remember, just go for mäi Kand – my child.
It’s Christmas time and you have a proper family reunion with your husband or wife’s relatives. The wine is flowing as freely as the Moselle river on a sunny spring day, your partner’s brother is boasting about his new penthouse in Knokke, and the grandparents are moaning about digitization and online banking. You put on a brave face and enjoy the merry multitude until you’re back in the car, heading back home with your partner. Normally it would be gossip time but you it is with great horror that you realise you completely forgot how to say aunt, uncle, niece, grandpa etc. in Luxembourgish. Note to yourself: this is where this guide comes in handy. Let’s stop beating around the bush:
| Däi Bop ass ëmmer granzeg. || Your grandfather is always grumpy. |
| Deng Bom ass ëmmer granzeg. || Your grandmother is always grumpy. |
Note: Bom and Bop are widely used among adults but quite informal / borderline disrespectful. Children would usually add an a or an i to the end of Bom and Bop, making it Bomi/Boma or Bopi/Bopa. The most formal words for grandparents may actually be the easiest to remember for expats as they come closest to French and English: Grousspapp and Groussmamm.
If Groussmamm means grandmother and Grousspapp means grandfather then… Mamm means mother and Papp means father, right? Exactly, easy as (Christmas) pie. Children usually say Mama and Papa.
But back to our jolly Christmas reunion – the gossip has only just begun.
| Däi Monni war voll. || Your uncle was drunk. Note: "voll" technically means "full". |
| Deng Tata war voll. || Your aunt was drunk. |
Yes, almost every Luxembourgish family has a Monni or Tata who likes to (over)indulge in Crémant or Hunnegdrëpp. And admit it, Tata is the cutest word for aunt you’ve ever heard. Last but not least, you may also want to familiarise yourself with this bunch:
| Däi Brudder ass méi déck ginn. || Your brother has gotten fatter. |
| Deng Schwëster ass méi déck ginn. || Your sister has gotten fatter. |
| Däi Cousin braddelt non-stop. || Your cousin chatters non-stop. |
| Deng Cousine braddelt non-stop. || Your (female) cousin chatters non-stop. |
| Deng Giedel ass knéckeg. || Your godmother is stingy. |
| Däi Pätter ass knéckeg. || Your godfather is stingy. |