Grandparent and other names for them

This is the full read-only archive of the "Ask the Wordwizard" section of the original Wordwizard site. The responses to the questions originate from Jonathon Green, the compiler of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang and numerous other dictionaries.
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Grandparent and other names for them

Post by Archived Topic » Wed Feb 17, 1999 12:00 am

My parents and grandparents came from Germany, Prussia and Lithuania. We never referred to them as such when we were growing up.

Instead, when not in their view, they were called "Oma" for grandmother and "Opa" for grandfather. If we spoke to them directly, it was always "Omi" and "Opi", the "i" pronounced as "ee". Example, "Omi, the blanket you're knitting is beautiful," or "Opi, thanks for showing me how to gut a fish." (All things my grandparents did.)

I thought that maybe these were just nicknames, but the different spellings made me wonder, whether direct or indirect. Thank you!
Submitted by Mike Werner (Marlboro - U.S.A.)
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Grandparent and other names for them

Post by Jonathon Green » Thu Feb 18, 1999 8:00 am

Both forms are noted in the Dict. of American Regional English, which defines 'oma' as grandmother, with the label 'esp. in German settlement areas'; 'opi' and 'opa' are grandfather, and similarly labelled. The latter seems to be an elision of 'grosspapa' (? or 'grosspapi'); presumably oma is 'grossmama', although the DARE does not specify.
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