I do not speak Russian, however I am trying to write a few lines of convincing (romanized) dialog between two Russian characters. I'm searching for a diminutive or informal word an elderly woman might use to refer to a younger person or group of younger people (male or female).

E.g. if I lovingly call my grandma/the kind old lady next door 'Babushka' [ба́бушка], what are some loving/cute names she might use to call me, or me and a group of my siblings collectively?

Please include romanized pronunciation for my benefit :)

Edit: Thank you for the input and feedback on the question so far. Let me provide some more context to clarify my intent.

I'm designing a card guessing game which takes place in a Russian folklore / traditional family setting. Please forgive and/or correct any cultural mis-steps in the below, I'm only starting with my understanding of Russian culture :)

The setting;

After a family dinner, a grandmother (say 70 years old) takes down her elaborate Matryoshka [матрёшка] stacking doll sets, and arranges them on the floor of the living room. The grandchildren and their friends (say 9-14 years old) gather around to play a family guessing game. Grandma has chosen one doll as her `favourite', and the children must guess which one it is.

One of the grandchildren points to some dolls and says "Babushka, does your favourite doll match any of these dolls?"

Babushka laughs and responds, "No ___________, my doll doesn't match any of those ones". The children then continue taking turns guessing to try and figure out which doll is Babushka's favourite.

I'm trying to fill in the blank in the above dialogue with an affectionate diminutive that could refer to any of the young grandchildren and/or their friends (male or female) in this loving, family context.

Thank you!

  • 3
    There is a plethora of such words quite apart from the numerous diminutives of the words baby/kid/child. (Think of "darling", "sweetie" or even "poor bugger"). You'd better provide a full context/phrase, lest our suggestions may sound unnatural.
    – Zeus
    Apr 14 '20 at 2:31
  • 1
    Детка (little child) can be used for a male or a female child equally expressing tenderness.
    – V.V.
    Apr 15 '20 at 20:10
  • 1
    @V.V. "деточка" (an even higher level diminutive) would be appropriate here. Unfortunately, "детка" has acquired a sexualized undertone in the last few decades. An elderly person would not address a young person "babe" in English, unless they're out of touch; "детка" is that, but markedly more sexualized. May 2 '20 at 15:43

In this context, the most likely form of address would be "внучек" (grandson) or "внученька" (granddaughter).

Generally, there is a long list of endearing forms of address for children, in many cases not very generic, but rather "customized" in a particular family.

"Мой милый", "мой маленький", "мой хороший", "золотце", "касатик" (largely obsolete, but certainly can be used by an older generation).

  • Thank you @Alexander! This answer is very insightful and perfect :) I believe Мой милый or мой маленький captures the intent I am looking for. Am I correct in believing these terms could be applied to male or female grandchildren? Apr 15 '20 at 0:29
  • (also, they have the added benefit of sounding nice in English when romanized:D) Apr 15 '20 at 0:30
  • @aaronsnoswell in feminine form, they would be "моя милая" and "моя маленькая".
    – Alexander
    Apr 15 '20 at 0:33
  • That is valid for relatives only, I believe, the asker demands a more general word, irrespective of relations
    – V.V.
    Apr 16 '20 at 8:49
  • @V.V. IN OP's example, the child addresses the elderly woman as "babushka", which means that "grandson"/"granddaughter" reply just fine, even if no actual relation is present.
    – Alexander
    Apr 16 '20 at 15:58

При обращении к группе детей можно использовать такие слова:
ребя́та, ребятня́, ребя́тки, ребяти́шки, детвора́, де́тки, внуча́та, внучки́, мелюзга́, молодёжь, молодые люди.

К собственному внуку: ди́тятко, крови́нка, внучо́к, (вну́чек), о́тпрыск, ребятёнок, де́тка.

  • Странно, слова ребятня́, ребя́тки, ребяти́шки почему-то из ответа выпадают (преобразовываются в просто "ребята"). Это ведь обычные (общеупотребительные) слова в русском языке. Apr 30 '20 at 14:02

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