I love the English words siblings and spouses. They are about a specific relationship without being gender-specific. I think that’s quite cool, it’s the relationship that matters, not the gender.
We don’t have these words in Dutch. We have broer (brother) en zus (sister) but we don’t have ‘sibling’. So we always have to say ‘my brothers and sisters’ when talking about all of them. Some people have taken to just mashing up broer and zus into brus (multiple: brussen) but it’s not a normal word (yet).
It’s the same for spouses, We don’t even really have the words husband and wife, we just say man and vrouw (man and woman). If you want to say ‘a group of friends and their spouses’ you would use ‘partner’ to be gender-unspecific, but that’s a word that can also imply girlfriend or boyfriend and not married couples.
It’s funny that we lack words when Dutch is such an elaborate language.
I was thinking about these things because yesterday my father and his siblings and all their spouses went out for dinner together.
It is so fun to see them all hanging out and having a grand old time, to see them enjoy each others company so much. It makes me happy to know I come from a family that really loves each other and that tries to stay close even though we don’t all live near. A family that likes having a beer together and develops in-jokes.
And I hope I can keep this up with my siblings too when I get to be the age of my parents.