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For example, in some cultures, women may not use their husband's name, but instead refer to him as "X's father" or "X's mother". What is the technical term used to describe this practice of avoiding the use of a spouse's name?

Edit:

I had the exact technical term noted in my diary which I doesn't have access right now. The word had adjective form to denote the uses of such term and a noun form for such a practice (___logy or ____nomy). I'll get back to this post when I find the exact term either through my diary or perhaps ChatGPT.

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    Do you have a particular language or culture in mind, where we may be able to identify the specific phenomenon from anthropological or linguistic texts? Have you tried Googling, because you should state your research and any terms you have rejected?
    – Stuart F
    Apr 10, 2023 at 9:55
  • There is surely something not right this. How would any female person, A, married to a male person, B refer to B as anybody's 'father'? Many men can be referred to a someone's SON. Greeks, for example use what are called 'patronymics'. Are you sure that is not what you are getting at?
    – Tuffy
    Apr 10, 2023 at 12:01
  • I had the exact technical term noted in my diary which I lost. The word had adjective form to denote the uses of such term and a noun form for such a practice. Apr 10, 2023 at 13:57
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    @Tuffy Perhaps the most well-known such case is Arabic "abu". (I don't know whether spouses use "abu" or "umm" for each other, though.) Apr 13, 2023 at 18:11
  • @Tuffy: Millions of mothers say You'll have to ask your father when they don't want to grant their child's request, but they also want to avoid being blamed for refusing. Apr 13, 2023 at 18:11

2 Answers 2

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The general term is avoidance speech [Wikipedia], where "a special restricted speech style must be used in the presence of or in reference to certain relatives". It is found in some Australian Aboriginal, Austronesian, Cushitic, North American, and other languages. Languages with this feature are sometimes known as mother-in-law languages, as the taboo often relates to mothers-in-law rather than spouses.

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  • I'm trying to work out why English, where calling mother and father by name rather than 'mum/mother' etc is unusual (though not taboo), doesn't qualify. Apr 10, 2023 at 11:21
  • The word I'm looking for is metonymy -- a figure of speech in which a concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept.
    – BPC
    Jan 17 at 6:18
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This is a very specialized question. If I wanted an answer, I’d search Google Scholar for relevant articles.

However, it’s unlikely that the term in the foreign language would be translated into English.

In Kazakstan in the 19th century, there was a taboo among some groups forbidding a wife from using the name of her husband or his relatives. See The Tradition of at tergeý – Tabooing the Names of a Woman’s Husband and His Male Relatives in 21st-Century Kazakhstan (PDF download).

This article doesn’t translate the term, which is at tergeý.

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  • The word I'm looking for is metonymy -- a figure of speech in which a concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept.
    – BPC
    Jan 17 at 6:18

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