I usually speak to my 6 year old in English but I noticed that when I want to tell him how much I love him, I say it in Persian. Here are some of the things I say at least 50 times a day:

‘Ghorbanat beram’ – I’ll sacrifice myself for you
‘Bemeeram basat’ – I’ll die for you
‘Fadat besham’ – I’ll sacrifice myself for you
‘Jeegaram’ – ‘My liver’…

Talk about morbid!

You can just imagine if this is our terms of endearment, what we say when we want to curse someone!


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  2. I never understood this obsession with liver! People here have mentioned the “importance” of liver in Persian, Italian, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Malayam and Tamil. Even the North Indian languages (such as Hindi) are not spared. “Jeegar ke Tukrey” (‘Slice of Liver’) is a term of extreme endearment (usually between parent and offspring), and if popular film scores are to be believed, a favorite place of residence of one’s beloved is often ‘beside the liver’ (‘Jeegar ke paas’)!!!

  3. “My liver” (you are my life, you are my liver!) is a very popular use in south Indian languages like Malayalam and Tamil. When I mentioned it to my turkish friend, she exclaimed that is quite common in Turkey as well. I did not know it was so in Iran. Kerala, being a BCE port for Arabs it could very well be a Persian/Arab influence.

    I guess, we did not know one could live with large portions of liver missing/removed.

  4. I find linguistic differences between cultures fascinating. The liver instead of the heart as the seat of emotions is particularly interesting. In Italian, the liver (“fegato”) is the seat of courage, whereas in Spanish courage resides in the testicles (“cojones”). Even a courageous woman can have “cojones”.

    Fortunately, Spanish terms of endearment are not nearly so dramatic. Nobody would think of saying to their baby “I would die for you”; it’s just too gloomy. Mostly, we refer to a baby or a child with terms denoting beauty (“lindura”, “belleza”), cuteness (“ternura”) or plain meaningless onomatopoeias (“cuchi-cuchi”). Similarly in Italian.

    I wonder whether such differences help shape the baby’s outlook on the world. If anyone has references to papers on the matter, I’d be delighted to get the references.

  5. My mother often used to say she would die for me when I was small. Usually it came out as ‘I’ll hang for you’. Presumably for infanticide after I’d pulled yet another stupid stunt. 🙂

  6. ‘Jeegaram’ – ‘My liver’…

    The liver as the seat of passion, which started with Galen, I think it was. It is the same in Indonesian: the liver (‘hati’) as the seat of emotions rather than the heart (as in ‘Western’ culture).

    1. Odd, too: dying for someone is easy, over pretty quickly, and necessarily of limited duration and impact. It’s living for the sake of someone else that’s impressive (if still a bit creepy in my mind, unless we’re talking about one’s offspring, as it demonstrates an abdication of the independent sense of self that is rather necessary for healthy functioning in contemporary Western cultures). Martyrdom’s a cop-out.

      1. How true! Sometimes to keep on living is much harder than jumping off a bridge and be done with it. I know. I once had to make that choice, and the thought of leaving my daughter fatherless was definitely out of bounds. But the void has such a strong pull…

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