What’s in a name? – Aunt, Aunty or Auntie
My 2-year-old niece can’t say Aunty Sam. She calls me A’ Sa’ which sounds a lot like A**hole. I’m confident she doesn’t realise this. I love hearing “A’ Sa’ HOLD MY HAND!!” as we take a turn around the garden.
I am lucky enough to have 4 nephews, 3 nieces and 2 more nibblings on the way. I lived overseas when they were born so didn’t see them much. I then moved back to the UK so I could hang out with them more, then of course lockdown hit. So being able to play with them in person over the last few months has been especially great. I am utterly useless at anything domestic when it comes to children but I’m great at playing games.
This week was national Aunty and Uncle Day in the US. Not entirely sure how one goes about celebrating this. I didn’t even get a card. Aunties should be celebrated. We are a thoroughly unrepresented bunch. In Asia, the word Aunty is an endearing term used to describe any woman who is a similar age to your parents, not necessarily one you’re related to. In a rather grim discovery while looking at my website’s Google analytics, I discovered that 22,000 people in Asia had searched for “Aunty Lovers” last month and been shown my home page. Noooooo!
There are of course a few famous aunties and I’m not just talking about Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. There’s lovely Aunt May in Spider-Man and the not so lovely Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Auntie is also the informal name given to the BBC.
You may have noticed I’ve referred to Aunty with 3 different spellings so far; Aunty, Auntie and Aunt. Can you think of another word with multiple spellings which aren’t associated with British or American English? Both Aunty and Auntie are acceptable spellings in both languages. Such a special word for so many reasons!
Digging a little bit deeper, Aunty is derived from the formal word Aunt and was first introduced around the early 18th century. Whereas Auntie first appeared in the 1970s. The word, Aunt, means motherlike and is derived from the French word ‘ante’, which originated from the Latin word ‘amita’. Aunty is considered less formal than Aunt and more affectionate. Kind of like saying Mummy instead of Mother. Every day is a learning day!