Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Research Article: 2021 Vol: 24 Issue: 1S

Endearment Strategies Used By Spouses in Karaki Jordanian Arabic: A Socio-Pragmatic Study

Bushra AL-Majali, Al-Balqaʼ Applied University

Fawaz Al-Abed Al-Haq, Hashemite University


Terms of Endearment, Spouses, Kerak Culture


 The aim of this study is to investigate the use of endearment strategies between spouses in Kerak- Jordan. The data was collected by a written discourse complication task (DCT). The data was categorized and analyzed based on (Brown & Gilman’s, 1960; Afful & Nartey’s, 2013) the study has classified the terms of endearment into 15 categories which are epithet 2- royalty 3- coinage 4- flora 5- fauna 6- physical appearance and personality 7- religious 8- regional 9- first name 10- zero terms 11- Teknonyms 12- occupational 13- kinship14- borrowed terms 15- love expressions. Results showed that younger spouses in general use terms of endearment more than other two age groups. Older age group use teckonyms more than other age groups. Males use terms of endearment more than females because they have more power than their wives especially in public situations.


Sociolinguistics is considered one of the most prominent fields of research in linguistics. This branch is mainly interested in studying the relationship between languages and societies. It explains different social meanings of different language functions in different contexts. Context is an important dimension, whether it is formal (e.g. church and court) or informal such as home and work (Holmes, 2013). Different social dimensions and factors can shape language choices, such as age, gender, ethnicity, status, race, place, religion, background, among others. That is to say, individual’s identity can appear in people’s choices while speaking (Holmes, 2013). For example, in African American vernacular, they use the verb form of singular and plural as if they were the same. To illustrate, they say He play the piano, instead of: He plays the piano (Williams, 2007). African Americans intend to highlight these language choices to show pride of their identity and to show solidarity. It is typically a normal phenomenon to have variations across cultures which have led to creating interesting contrastive studies. These studies build the bridge for mutual understanding in communication among different cultures as well as between individuals.

Pragmatics is also another important dimension in the current study. According to Cambridge dictionary, pragmatics is "the study of how language is affected by the situation in which it is used, of how language is used to get things or perform actions, and of how words can express things that are different from what they appear to mean". Pragmatics is essential in linguistics. According to Grace (2007), learning and teaching pragmatics help natives and non-natives to elevate their competence of pragmatics. It also helps them to avoid miscommunications because of cultural differences. This study tackles endearment strategies from a socio-pragmatic perspective.

Terms of address open the door for any conversation. They are also a complicated system that are learnt and acquired in order to communicate properly in a certain culture. Terms of address have been an integral part of the sociolinguistics development since the beginning of the 60s (Juning, 2014). Different definitions of terms of address have been proposed by different scholars. Esmae’il (2017) pinpoints that “an address term is a word or phrase that is used for the person being talked to or written to. They are the first stage of any communication, especially, in direct face-to-face communication. Another definition is presented by (Parkinson, 2015) who argues that terms of address are “loosely defined as words used in a speech event that refer to the addressee of that speech event can be extremely important conveyors of social information”. Sociolinguistics illustrated that terms of address are linguistics features that are influenced by the individuals’ and the societies’ thoughts, ideas, ideologies, attitudes, which they seek to present and convey. Terms of address have a pivotal importance in sociolinguistics and pragmatics, simply because they convey different interpretations. Terms of address have many types as kinship, honorifics, nicknames, and endearment terms (Parsison, 2015). Terms of address are defined by Dunkling (2008) as names, words, or combination of both. They are used by the speaker, the hearer, and a third –party hearer either optionally or obligatory for multiple reasons (i.e., grammatical, occasional, emotional, social….).

Terms of address and communicative acts are considered as a face threatening act. Interlocutors use different strategies to either establish a positive face or a negative face. Mubashra (2012) maintains that positive face occurs when the person is appreciated by other people. On the contrary, negative face is when the person is free of action. There are three types to determine the face-threating act. The first type is power. Second, solidarity between the Interlocutors and the degree of intimacy between the speakers. Third, the statues and the pragmatic functions in the utterance. Terms of address are part of vocatives. Vocatives are discourse markers which reflect the illocutionary force in a spoken context. Mubashra (2012) argues that when the relationship between the Interlocutors is closer the positive politeness increases. The opposite happens: when the relationship becomes farther, negative politeness increases. Addresses in general occupy a dynamic role in natural human communication.

This study is conducted in Karak Governorate. It is 140 kilometers south of Amman the capital. Historically, this region was inhabited by bedouins and farmers. Many customs and virtues are driven from bedouins and farmers (rural) background in this area (i.e., Karak). For example, it is wel-known in the Bedouin and rural cultures that gests are warmly welcomed in their resident. This virtue is still present in the Karaki people’s traditions.

Aims of the Study

This study aims to investigate the endearment strategies used by spouses in Karak city in the south of Jordan. It aims to show the different endearment strategies in different situations (formal, informal) between husbands and wives. It also aims to show the effect of gender on the use of these endearment strategies as well as the age and the level of education of the couples. The study aims to answer the following questions:

1) What are the endearment strategies used by spouses in Karaki culture?

2) What is the influence of gender and age on endearment strategies use?

3) What is the most frequent term of endearment used by karaki spouses?

Problem of the Study

The usage of these terms can vary from one culture to another. Karaki Jordanian sub-culture is peculiar and it certainly has its own influence on the choice of this term. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, there are no studies that have investigated the endearment terms in Karaki culture. Few studies have investigated the Jordanian terms of address and endearment terms. These terms are highly essential in understanding other cultures. They help people to build mutual communication.

Significance of the Study

Terms of address in general and endearment terms in specific are remarkable tools for communication. Studying these terms can build a bridge for a much concrete interaction. A lot of attention is driven to terms of address in general but not as sufficient to endearment terms. Terms of address in general and endearment strategies in specific convey overt and covert meanings. It is well-known that they are not seen as part of the grammar structure. They are still considered as highly important source of information about social information (Parkinson, 2015). They can also be used as a guide for teaching non-native learners the suitable use of them to express courtesy, etiquette, love, affection, and solidarity. In other words, they can be considered as an essential part of the pedagogical process because different backgrounds create different reading of endearment terms. Karaki culture has unique beliefs and customs which can influence the use of them. Indeed, terms of address are universal but they are governed by different social and cultural variables (Ajlouni & abualhegah, 2015). A little body of research has been conducted on spouse’s reciprocal endearment terms in different cultures and languages.

Literature Review and Theoretical Background

The current study is inspired by Brown & Gilman’s (1960) ‘power and solidarity framework’. In general, most studies about terms of address are based on two frameworks: Brown & Gilman’s (1960) two-dimensional model. It analyzes the terms based on power and solidarity. It analyzes the relationship between the interlocutors and takes the historical changes of this relation into consideration. The current study will take this framework into consideration because spouses’ different power can influence the use of endearment terms. The second framework is based on different linguistic choices due to the social context and social change (Afzali, 2011). Power is related to high status, wealth and social distance, whereas solidarity is related to belonging to a certain group which share closeness and common experiences (Etaywe, 2018).

The following studies are some studies that investigated husband and wife addressing/endearment strategies. Yang (2007) investigated terms of address by Chinese women addressing their husbands. The tradition is to address their husbands’ families as if they were children in the same family. This means that women are seen as subordinate as young children. On the other hand, women with high education tend to be stronger and more powerful. As a result, they did not address them as young children. Social background has a great impact on the linguistic choice. The status of women here is influenced by the notion of power and solidarity.

Esmae’li (2011) studied the use of address terms of address between spouses. The classification of term of address is as the following: first name, pet name, and respect name. The researcher collected the data by a questionnaire and interviews. He took age and level of education under consideration. The results showed that both husbands and wives use pet names more when they are together and alone, but they use respect names and first names more when they are in the presence of one or both of their parents. The study is in line with other studies that language varies in different social contexts.

Afzali (2011) conducted a paper about Iranian men addressing their wives. She highlighted a very important feature of their culture which is that women are protected and isolated from outsiders. Men do not call their wives by their bare names; they use contempting terms & teknonyms. This increases the gap and the distance between spouses. Women on the other hand, address their husbands the same way as their children address their own fathers. This phenomenon is common in low intermediate and strata of the society. In higher strata, men address their wives by their first name which implies intimacy, solidarity and closeness between them. It is also important to say that nowadays addressing women by their first name is becoming more and more popular in low- intermediate strata because of women’s empowerment through education.

Shafiee, Sabzevari & Motatallebi (2015) aimed at investigating the influence of economic status and education level on terms of address in Sherkork, Iran. The participants were 50 married couples. Discourse Completion Tasks (DCTs) were used as an instrument to collect the data. The findings of the article emphasized the importance of the level of education on using terms of address. People with high level of education use more polite and formal terms of address. However, no significance was found in using terms of address between high and low economic statues.

Etaywe (2018) investigated addressing forms in northern rural Jordanian areas between husbands and their wives. He used two models to collect data. The first is the (Brown & Gilman’s, 1960) two-dimensional model and the second is (Hymes, 1962, 1964, 1972) ethnography of (cultural) communication approach. The study focused on many different variations such as the age of couples, the length of their marriage, and situation. The study revealed that husband’s strategies of addressing their wives are affected by the social backgrounds, academic background, and the duration of their marriage. Participants used epithets, teknonyms, zero form, forenames, and endearment terms to address their wives.

There are other types of studies that have tackled the international married couples as Yoon (2019) who examined the address terms of address used by Japanese and Korean spouses. He clarified that the terms of address can facilitate communication among different interlocutors. The international marriage is a common phenomenon in South Korea and Japan. The data was collected by Korean and Japanese TV shows. The wives were Japanese and the husbands were Korean. The researcher chose spouses in 30’s and 40’s of age. The results showed that the differences between the wives’ and husbands’ terms of address were influenced by the speakers’ social backgrounds.

Mansor (2019) aimed at studying the use of terms of address by Malay wives when addressing their husbands. Participants came from the upper-middle classes, middle class, and lower- middle classes. The data was collected by a questionnaire, which was filled by 97 Malay females. The findings showed that the upper- middle class Malay wives address their husbands by the English pronoun ‘you’. This choice was a clear representation of prestige because in Malaysia English is seen as a prestigious language that the upper classes tend to use. They also used endearment terms as a second choice. The lower class preferred using kinship terms among spouses to indicate love and affection. The research also highlighted the pedagogical importance of learning these terms, especially to novel learners of Malay.



The current study has 180 participants. 90 females and 90 males. They were chosen randomly. All of them are from kerak and have spent most of their mature life in kerak. They also use the keraki dialect.
Data Collection


Discourse Complication Tasks (DCTs) and observations were used as instruments to collect the data. DCTs were chosen because they are believed to be similar to authentic situations As stated in Kasper & Dahl (1992), DCT is consider as a reliable and integral method for data collection in pragmatic research.

The written DCTs are consists of two parts. The first part is interested in collecting information about the participants’ age, gender and level of education. Whereas, the second part of the written DCTs is consists of ten situations the first five ones are informal situations, whereas the last five ones are formal situations. Each situation is followed by a blank for the participants to fill in.

As for observation, the researcher is a native karaki, so she tried to observe and record those terms and strategies to show love and affection between karaka spouses. Observation was reported in different situation as in family gatherings and in public interactions between strangers.

Data Analysis

The data was analyzed based on the (Afful & Nartey’s, 2013) classification with some adaptation to meet the Karaki culture. This classification categorizes endearment terms into four main groups: epithets which refer to ordinary addressing term that might be interpreted as an offensive addressing term but intended to be endearment addressing term instead. This is related to the context and to social relationship. For example, epithet nigger, is acceptable in many African Americans but might not be well received if it used by a non-African American, or if it said in different contexts (Motley & Henderson, 2007). The second one is flora. It is very popular to use flora terms to refer to others to show affection and love. The third is royal terms (e.g. my lady or my king). The last one is personal names (e.g. to say Aloush for the name Ali). However, it was found that the Jordanian culture needs more categories to analyze the endearment terms between spouses. Therefore, the current classification will be divided into the following categories:


They are combined in some cases with the possessive adjective (my) to show solidarity and to personalized terms (Afful & Nartey, 2013).

Royalty Terms (e.g. my lady, my princes).

Coinage Terms

Afful & Nartey (2013): “a term for naming is produced by manipulating or drawing on the linguistic resources or grammatical rules of a language to perform a naming function.” (E.g. Susu for Seham).

Flora (e.g. my flower, my blossom).

Fauna Terms: Using animal terms to show love and affection (e.g. cat, duck, cow).

Religious Terms: Some terms which are related to religious reference (e.g. hajj).

Kinship: (e.g. my wife/ husband, my brother).


This type is popular in different Arabic cultures in general and Karaki culture in particular (e.g. Umm Hani)


In some situations- especially formal situations- they use the professional or occupational title as an endearment term between spouses (e.g. doctor and professor).

Zero Form

It is used when no overt term is assigned the addressee. The addresser drags the addressee attention by body language, by facial gestures, or by talking the other person but without using any specific type of addressing term.

Borrowed Terms

Borrowed terms are adapted from other languages as English (E.g. Baby), French (e.g., Madam) and Turkish (E.g. aşkim ‘my love’).

Personality and Physical Appearance

In this type the term is inspired by the address personal attribute or skill or personal character (e.g addressing someone with ي ا سري ع ‘fast’,ي ا ذك ي ‘smart’ ). Spouses use their other partner physical appearance as a method to use terms of endearment (e.g. م لزل زة ‘chubby’,ح لوة ’beautiful’)

Regional expressions religious terms are also used by spouses to show intimacy and respect (E.g. haj, shikh) Love terms

First Name: This type is concerned with addressing the addressees by their first name (e.g. Ahmad, Salma). In some conservative culture it is not popular to address their women with their first name in public. However, calling women with their first names in some contexts can be a great indication of respect and appreciation

Love Expressions

Which are the most classical category, love terms are all the terms and expressions which are used to indicate love and affection (E.g. my love, my soul, my life,)

Research Procedures

The study followed a range of procedures to analyze the collected data. First, the data was gathered by DCTs and observation. The DCTs were judged by three linguistic professors of English from the University of Jordan, and one professor of Arabic linguistics from Muta’h University. While distributing the DCTs the researcher presented a brief explanation to illustrate more about the situations of the DCTs. A special attention was given to senior participants who were above 70 years old to make sure they comprehended what is requested of them. The researcher helped the illiterate senior participants in writing their answers.

Results and Discussion

The Effect of the Study variables

In this section we present the results of each of the study variables separately. We start with Age. Table (1) clearly shows that Age is a decisive factor in using endearment terms between spouses in Kerak governorate. Younger spouses were more likely to use endearment terms than older ones. The age group ‘18-29’ used endearment terms 484 times in comparison with only 345 times for the age group ‘50+’.

Table 1
The Effect of ‘Age’on Choosing A Certain Address Term Category
1244 Age/ALL
484 18-29
415 30-49
345 50+

The second variable is Gender. Interestingly, Table (2) clarifies that males appear to use endearment terms more than females with 646 times for males versus 598 for females. Dunkling, (2008) clarified that some terms of address because of their meaning are used be one gender and not by the opposite gender.

Table 2
The Effect of ‘Gender’ on Choosing A Certain Address Term Category
Male 646
Female 598

In this section we show the relationships between the study variables and they affected each other’s. First, the males in age group (18-29) used endearment terms much more than the females (285 vs 199). Similarly, the in the age group (50+), males used endearment terms slightly more than their female counterparts (176 vs 169). By contrast, in the age group (30-49), it was the females who used endearment terms more than their male counterparts (230 vs 185). This means that there is no clear relationship between age and gender with regard to using endearment terms (Table 3).

Table 3
The Relationship Between ‘Age’ and ‘Gender’ and Its Effect on Choosing A Certain Address Term Category
All 18-29 30-49 50+
M 285 185 176
F 199 230 169

The Most Used Category of Address Terms

Regardless of the study variables, the participants of the study used endearment terms to varying degrees. Table (4) shows that most participants used ‘love expressions’ and ‘teknonyms’ the most (209 and 208 respectively). On the other hand, ‘regional’ expressions were the least used (only 7 times), followed by ‘zero forms’, i.e., they did not use any endearment expression (19 times).

Table 4
The Most Used Category of Address Terms
Term of Endearment Frequency
epithet 179
royal 27
coinage 125
floral 29
fauna 38
religious 41
kinship 68
teknonyms 208
occupation 30
first name 177
zero form 19
borrowed 23
personality and physical appearance 58
regional 7
love expression 209
others 22

Let’s now look at each variable separately and see how that affected the use of endearment terms. Males used ‘love expressions’, ‘tecknonyms’ and ‘first name’ more than female participants (117, 110, and 100). However, females used ‘epithets’ and ‘love expressions’ more than their male counterparts (102 and 92 respectively) (Table 5).

Table 5
The Most Used Category of Address Terms in Light of ‘Gender’
epithet 179 77 102
royal 27 13 14
coinage 125 56 69
floral 29 21 8
fauna 38 27 11
religious 41 19 22
kinship 68 29 39
teknonyms 170 110 60
occupation 30 10 20
first name 177 100 77
zero form 19 14 5
borrowed 23 16 7
personality and physical appearance 58 40 18
regional 7 4 3
love expression 209 117 92
others 22 9 13

Table (6) is the last table in the section. It displays the most used category in light of age. In ’18-29’ group, the participants used ‘love expressions’, ‘epithet’ and ‘first name’ the most with (91,79, 71) respectively. In the second ‘age’ group ’30-49’, participants used ‘epithet, ‘love expressions’ and ‘teknonyms’ almost the same with (70,70, 69) times respectively. The last age group ‘50+’ used ‘teknonyms’ most with 91 times which was the highest among the other categories. We can notice that ‘50+’ also used ‘religious’ terms more than the two other age groups. However, the senior group showed the least number of using ‘love expressions’ with 43 times versus (96) in the ‘18-29’ and (70) in ‘30-29’.

Table 6
The Most Used Category of Address Terms In Light of ‘Age’
18-29 30-49 50+
epithet 179 79 70 30
royal 27 12 5 10
coinage 125 55 54 16
floral 29 14 9 6
fauna 38 26 10 2
religious 41 6 5 30
kinship 68 19 20 29
teknonyms 208 48 69 91
occupation 30 9 11 10
first name 177 71 56 50
zero form 19 11 4 4
borrowed 23 18 3 2
personality and physical appearance 58 23 21 14
regional 7 4 2 1
love expression 209 96 70 43
others 22 9 6 7

Discussion of Results

The Discussion of Each Variable Separately and in Contras

This section discusses the results of the study. Terms of endearment are discussed in light of many factors. According to (Junying, 2014), terms of endearment differ and vary from one culture to another based on universal factors such as, power, solidarity, face, and politeness.

The variables in this study are: age, gender, First, let’s expose age and its behavior in general. Younger spouses tend to use terms of endearment more than the other two age groups. This can be explained based on the fact that younger people relay on word expressions to expose their feelings more than older people. Younger spouses are probably newlywed couples who are in the first stage of marriage with various strategies and terms to expose their love, affection and respect. They also tend to use a larger array of strategies and terms more than the other age groups. In Jordanian culture in general and in Karaki one in particular, senior couples show a bigger tendency toward more preservative terms of endearment as teknonyms and first names. This meets with (Junying, 2014) results. He clarified that respect between Japanese senior spouses is part of their culture

Gender is a salient variable in the current study. Mubashra (2017) highlights the idea that there is not one gender ideology of using terms of endearment across all cultures. Interestingly, males in general record a higher number in using terms of endearment than female participants. Wives are cherished in Karaki society. They are treated as if they were soft and dialect objects that must be covered and protected from strangers and outsiders. A large number of men do not appreciate their wives to address them in public; they prefer their wives to be quiet. This goes along side with (Dunkling, 2008) results, he explored that males tend to use terms of address more than females.

Al-Harahsheh (2014) pointed that in Arabic cultures in general and in Jordanian culture in specific, expect certain appropriate linguistic styles from women (i.e., certain intonation, vocabulary, and pronunciation). Women are judged if they do not follow a certain path of terms of address choices because it is consider as a violation of the Jordanian norms and culture. Men behave in a loss manner because it believed that their muscularity allows them to do so. Men also, cannot use soft terms because they might be accused of being womanish. Whereas, women’s feminity restricted their linguistic choices. Mubashra, (2017) points out those western societies vary from non-western societies in the use of most types of terms of endearment.

If we compare age to gender we would find that males in the first age group used terms of endearment more than other age groups. Men in general in Karaki culture are spouse to show their muscularity and power, but we can say that males younger generation are not as restricted as older participants thus they show higher tendency to use diverse terms and strategies of endearment. On the other hand, female participants of the age group of (30-39) use terms of endearment more than the other age groups. It believed that, women after marriage for several years clings to their husbands more and more. Some women feel that her husband might re-marry if she does not pamper her husband.

According for Some Terms of Endearment

In this section each terms of endearment is discussed with examples and further explanations based on Karaki social background. The use of these terms might be similar in other cultures but each culture presents different interpretations. It may be noted that, overlapping between these terms is a normal phenomenon.


Etaywe (2018) stated that epithet is using a descriptive love words then using the first person possessive suffix (my). عمري ‘my life’. روحي ‘my soul’. Using these terms shows affection but using (my) + term of endearment show deeper depth to these terms. When using theses terms they are usually replaced by the first name of the partner to indicate how precious the partner is. Etaywe (2018) in his study indicated that certain terms might be used in the daily basis regularly to avoid using the first name which might be seen as not as dear as using epithet terms. He also clarified that some terms might be used in certain occasions, in a very private context.


It seems that royal terms are not part of everyday communication, they usually used in special occasions in many cultures (Afful & Nartey, 2012). The participants used many terms from this category, as ام يرت ي ‘my prince’ م ل كة ق ل بي ‘my heart queen’. We can notice from the previous examples that they are usually associated with the possessive adjective ‘my’. These exact royal choices are used by males more than females because females are associate with these terms more than males. On the other hand, males are addressed by س يدي ‘my lord’. This term assure them that they are uncharged of the relationship and that they have power.


Referring to Etaywe (2017) coinage is created from personal names and adjectives with some phonological changes. In other words, coinage becomes hypocoristic names such as, duplication (e.g. Susu for Salma), insertion (e.g. Talina for Talin), deletion (e.g. Juman for Jumanah), or even insertion and deletion together (e.g. Hamoudeh for Muhammad) among others. Couples are creative in creating such terms.


Flora terms are “names and forms that belong to the plant, flower or gardening family”. Afful & Nartey (2012). Interestingly, floral terms are used by husbands to address their wives since these terms somehow are considered as feminine terms. The most common terms are (وردة , ‘flower’, ن وارة , ‘Blossom’). Sometime these terms are used with other words (e.g. ن وارة ال دار ‘the house blossom’, وردة ال دار ‘the house flower’). These terms are usually used by males to highlight the importance of their wives present in the house.


As mentioned above, some terms of endearment are used more by a certain sex more than the opposite sex (Dunkling, 2008). Fauna terms are usually used more by males to address their partners. Properly, the reason behind that is that these terms are usually inspired by the physical appearance of the person. Usually male praises women physical appearance not the opposite. The most common examples of this sub- category are ‘ب طة , duck’, ‘ب قرة cow’, ‘غزال deer’). These examples are usually used to address curvy women. They are used to show affection and closeness in humorous way. These terms are usually used by younger couple. In some situations women addressed by a specific part of the animal (ع يون ال غزال deer’s eyes). Wives address their husbands by animals that indicate strength and stong body features (e.g. ي ا ال ذي ب ‘wolf’)

Religion has a great impact on Keraki culture and certainly people get influenced by religious terms and concepts. It is found that Islamic terms are more present in the current study. According to Samarah (2015), he argues that there are two factors that determine Arabic politeness, which are religion and social norms or conventions. He also argues that religion influences the politeness behavior more than the social conventions.
Most common religious terms in Jordanian culture is haj (for males) and hajeh (for females). These terms address Muslims who conducted the pilgrimage to Mecca. In Jordanian culture, elders are addressed with tis term wither they went to Mecca or not (Al-Qudah, 2017). The current study shows that senior spouse use this term more than the other two age groups.


According to Juning (2014) Arabic address system is mostly kinship-based. A great emphasis is laid on kinship terms in kareki culture. Strangers are addressed by kinship terms to show solidarity. Karaka use intensive kinship terms within family circle and between spouses. As my wife, my husband and mother and father to address the pther partner.


According to Juning (2014) teknonyms are combination of the word abu ‘father’, or um ‘mother’ + the eldest son’s first name (e.g. abu Ali ‘father of Ali’, um Ali ‘mother of Ali). The eldest male son is used in teknonyms. If the parents have daughter and sons the eldest male is used even if the daughter is older than her male siblings. In case that the parents don’t have a male child they use the eldest female’s name. In Jordanian culture teknonyms are commonly used in different situations among different people of different social ranks, gender, and age. They are also used among friends, family members, neighbors, acquaintances and even strangers. The current study shows that these terms are used among spouses to show respect and appreciation. Based on the results, this type is used more in formal situations in front of familiar and strangers. It is used more by participants with lower level of education. And certainly, more by men to keep the wife as private as possible.

According to Etaywe (2017) that this type has a certain functions in Jordanian culture: first, it is polite to use it. Second, it is used to show solidarity even among strangers. Etaywe (2017) also indicated that teknonyms are used by husbands to emphasis mutual respect. It is also a way to save face if the wife did not respond to her husband addressing. This term decreases shyness while addressing the wife in public and it maintains the privacy of familial emotional relation. It is a covert way of reminding the wife to keep a formal distance while mutual communication between both spouses.


Al-Qudah (2017) exposed the same category under ‘titles’. She highlighted that occupational terms and titles are usually used in formal situations more than in informal ones. In the current study it is also noticed that occupational terms and occupational titles are usually used in formal situations more the informal ones. If they occur in informal situations between spouses they usually hold a metaphoric meaning, in a cute affectionate manner or in a humorous way

First Name

In this type the wife uses her partner first name (e.g. Ahmad) and the husband uses his partner first name (e.g. Bushra). Etaywe (2018) implied that male spouses address their wives with their first names to show intimacy and closeness because women are usually addressed by other terms in public. Men usually do not prefer to revel their wives name in public in front of strangers; in using first name this barrier is broken.
Etaywe (2017) highlighted the social function of using forename. It shows intimacy and solidarity. It also a way to emphasis familiarity between couples.

Zero Form

Al-Qudah (2017); Etaywe (2018) stated that zero form is the avoidance of using any verbal terms. Or it could be referred as a non-linguistic strategy. Both Al-Qudah (2017); Etaywe (2018), clarified that these terms are inappropriate when addressing family or friend members and they are an indication of implicate punishment and anger it is also a way to show disapproval with the behavior of the wife to show the husband’s power. In the current study zero forms can be used to show respect and intimacy, because it could be combined with soft body (e.g. bowing) and facial gestures (e.g. smiling) when speaking is not available for example.


Borrowed terms are the terms which are loaned form other languages. English (e.g. Baby, doctor) French (e.g. Madam) and Turkish (e.g. pash) are the most common sources of such loan terms. Usually these terms are related to occupational terms as well as the some military ranks.

Personality and Physical Appearance

This sub-category is rich with data. Referring to spouses’ physical and personality, we can find several terms of address in different sub-categories.

1) Personality traits and skills: it is widely used to address the addressee by positive traits that the addressee is famous for or a term related a certain incidents. For example, a person who always cook delicious food he is referred to this skill by hey, chef. Or if the person in a specific occasion created a beautiful project for example he would be addressed based on this creation as hey, artist

2) Appearances: on the other hand appearance is not used equally to address birth males and females. It is clear in the current culture that women are addressed regarding their physical beauty more than men.

a) General Beauty : these terms describe the good-looking of the spouse as (ي اق مر hey, moon ي اح لوة جمال ي حلات ه , My sweet beauty’)

b) Skin Color: these term are divided into two main groups which are bright white skin color ي ا ق شطة ي ا اب يض م نطوخة مزي ون ة شه با (Oh cream, ya white, cooked and garnished with Shahba)’ and attractive brunet terms ب ني سمرا ي ا ن س كاف ية ي ا ق هوة (Bani Samra, nescafe, coffee).

c) Facial Beauty: these terms might describe the beautiful cheeks, eyes, smile, moles, dimples all of these terms are usually used to address the wife not the husband. ع يون ي , ي ا ع يون ال مها , ي ا ام ال غمازة (My eyes, oh eyes of oryx, oh mother of dimple)

Some terms ore used to describe the overall appearance as tallness, (e.g. ي ا زعرة , ق زعة hey short one, ي ا اب و طوي لة hey tall one) or weight as مدع بل ) (ة) ك ل بوز ,ة) دب دوب ة) ) chubby and curvy. Other term might be used here as elegant, good dressed.


This type deals with addressing the address by his/her origin. This type is usually used between spouses of different family names, origins, nationality. For example a non- karaki husband might address his wife by ي ا ك رك ية (O crane) which most of the time is used as a way to show respect to the other person.

Love Expression

In Etaywe (2017) study, he called this type as endearment term. In Etaywe (2017) study, he called this type as endearment term. This type consider as the optimal choice to indicate clear and explicit way to express love. These terms are a classical way to show endearment and love to others in close relationships. They are an explicate strategy to highlight closeness and affection


This study investigated the use of endearment strategies between spouses in Kerak- Jordan. The frameworks in the current study were Brown & Gilman’s (1960); Afful & Nartey’s (2013). Results showed that spouses in older age groups use teckonyms more than other age groups. Male participants used terms of endearment more than females. They prefer teknonyms and love expression the most, while the females prefer love expressions and first name.


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