6

In Spanish you add "-ito/a" as in hermanita, meaning little sister. In English we mostly do this with modifier words like that ("little").

What is the common construct in Russian?

10

In Russian this effect is achieved mainly by adding so-called diminutive suffixes to nouns. "Little sister" is Russian will be сестричка whereas сестра is a normal form. Here the ичк suffix is used, but in fact there are plenty of them. Seems difficult to remember them all for Russian learners. You can check out the whole list here. There's a table with different suffixes on the page. See those which are below the title Уменьшительно-ласкательные.

  • Is that article a bit outdated? Nobody says полосонька now, everyone would say полосочка. Also, with names of people it doesn't work: many names have almost infinite amount of diminutive forms. – Dmitriy Apr 24 '15 at 20:38
  • That's another good point. I didn't consider that different types of nouns would have different suffixes. What are common ones for names? – TomSchober Apr 25 '15 at 14:25
  • @TomSchober, different names may require different suffixes to be used with. Moreover, the same name can be combined with several suffixes producing different words with a diminutive accent. Off the top of my head I can say that ечк and еньк are the suffixes that are most commonly used for names. A few examples: Ваня - Ванечка, Ванюша, suffixes - ечк and юш; Серёжа - Серёженька, suffix - еньк; Женя - Женечка, suffix - ечк; Маша - Машенька, suffix - еньк. Seems to me that if the last consonant of a name is a hushing sound (ж, ш), еньк is used, otherwise, ечк is ok. – Ivan Apr 25 '15 at 15:03
4

чка and ик/чок, depending on gender.

Сестра -> сестричка.

Брат -> братик.

Кот -> котик.

2

it is not an answer to the question asked, just an illustration related to

I remember such a series for дурак (a fool):

дурачок, дурашечка, дурашка.
There’s even дурачочек.

A more important fact illustrated here is that combining such suffixes with a word may involve mutations of a pre-suffix consonant.

0

As well, for a 'little sister' you could use:

сестрица (often encountered in fairy tales)

сестрёночка (derived from сестрёнка)

сеструха (colloquial, denoting not only little, but sometimes also an older sister - context-dependent; note the spelling similarity to старуха)

сеструшечка (derived from сеструха, note the spelling similarity to старушечка as well as to ватрушечка)

Pushing this to the extreme, you can create such little-used, but still understandable forms as:

сестричечка (from сестричка)

сестричоночка (similar to мальчоночка)

сестричушечка (likely to be encountered in a verbal make-the-cutest-word contest)

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