Expressions of Affection in the Greek Language

One can learn much about Greeks by watching them when at table with friends and family, because this is when they are at their happiest and most relaxed. Animated, friendly, affectionate, exhuberant, demonstrative, humor loving-all these words could be used to describe Greeks.

The depth of their all-important family bonds carries over into relations with friends, and even with acquaintances, with many words of affection that derive from family relationships, especially the common form of address, 'Paidi mou', (literally, 'My child,' but used with everyone, often as a form of tender admonishment, sometimes when someone doesn't immediately grasp what one is trying to say, and one has to repeat it or explain it in other words, preceding the repetition with this term of endearment).

Another affectionate term of address is 'Mana mou' (literally, 'My mother',  though it can be used between any two people, regardless of age or gender).

The use of diminutives is another way of expressing affection, one form of this involving the addition of 'aki' to the end of a man's name (as in 'Yiannaki' for Yiannis, or 'Mihalaki' for Mihali), and then adding 'mou' (my) to it, hence calling a man or boy named Yiannis, Yiannaki mou (my little Yiannis), also regardless of age.

This ending can also be added to a word such as 'agori' (boy), thus making it into 'agoraki',with 'mou' then tacked on, resulting in 'Agoraki mou' (My little boy), used for any male , regardless of age.

Diminutive endings for women's names include 'oula' or 'itsa' tacked on to a woman's name, as in 'Annoula' for Anna, or Yeorgitsa for Yeorgia (Georgia), to a word like 'mikro' (small), making it 'mikroula'.

Another form of affectionate address is 'Kopelia', or 'Kopelia mou' or 'Koreetsi mou' (Girl, or My girl), used by men or women when addressing a girl or even a mature woman.

These are only a few of the many ways that Greeks express affection, for friends and family, but also for total strangers, thus extending the intimacy of family relationships outward into the world, and offering others the warmth and affection usually reserved for children in 'Western' culture. There is no condescension involved in this, but merely a form of sweet verbal caress.

Greek Style