I came across the word ресторанчики (restoranchiki) in the Russian lesson I’m working on today. It is the plural of ресторанчики, a diminutive of ресторан (restaurant), which has no exact equivalent I can think of in English – maybe restaurantette. You could say a little restaurant and a tiny restaurant, but I’m not sure if that has the same meaning. Can you suggest any alternatives in English?

It appears in the phrase “На Мальте очень хорошие маленькие ресторанчики, совсем недорогие.” (Malta has many very good, small restaurants, which are all cheap.)

Russian and other Slavic languages seem to use lots of diminutives like this, and I think Portuguese does as well. Do other languages?

This entry was posted in English, Language, Russian, Words and phrases.

12 Responses to Ресторанчики

  1. Darryl Shpak says:

    I don’t speak Dutch, but I’ve been exposed to enough of it that I know that the -je suffix serves as a diminutive, and from what I’ve seen/heard, it seems like you can apply it to just about anything.

    Actually, I just checked, and the Wikipedia article for Diminutive talks about -je and variants in Dutch, and also has examples for a whole bunch of other languages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminutive

  2. Shanth says:

    In English the suffix -ette often translates dimunitives from other languages, though it doesn’t really apply to restaurants. I guess bistros would sort of work here?

  3. Shanth says:

    In Hindi feminine forms of masculine nouns often function effectively as dimunitives.

  4. Ray says:

    A few words come to mind which might be close to the meaning: diner, cafe, bistro, and hole-in-the-wall (not necessarily pejorative).

  5. Luke says:

    The Italian-American side of my family (southern CT area) use “little” in just such a way before just about any noun, in reduced form-they’d likely translate the sentence as “…good lil’restaurants…” They seem to use it as a preposition much like the Slavic languages postpose it. I don’t hear this nearly as much from anyone else.

  6. Lev says:

    In Ancient Rome, some women’s names were diminutives of their family names, such as Livilla of the Livius family (women didn’t have any “given names”).

  7. plantwhisperer says:

    German has -lein and -chen as diminutives, both of which are used productively. Off the top of my head I would say that English has -ette and -ling. I definitely use both from time to time, but overall they seem to be cemented to certain words. -ette also seems to make things feminine. The German examples make things neutrum.

  8. Adrienne says:

    Spanish does -ito/a for diminutives (there are others but this is most common) and also has augmentatives -on/ona.

  9. David Eger says:

    Although it’s not very common in British English (maybe more so in the US and Australia), ‘diner’ suggests to me something less formal than a restaurant but a touch more formal than a cafe (“caff”).

    As regards diminutives, English has -ling and -let although these tend (nowadays) to be fixed components of particular words (gosling, piglet), rather than added on arbitrarily. For personal names, the addition of -y, -ie or -ey to all or part of the name is common (Freddy, Annie, Huey); they are also often added to animals or inanimate objects (food etc.) when talking to small children (doggie, drinky). -kin or -kins (perhaps cognate with German -chen) are other suffixes sometimes added to personal names.

    Portuguese, like Spanish, uses -ito/-ita; also -inho/-inha. Spanish also uses -illo/-illa and Italian, -ello/-ella and -ino/-ina.

    In parallel with the Romance languages, Latvian has (m/f) -iņš/-iņa and -ītis/-īte (depending on declension). These suffixes are frequently applied to personal names as well as inanimate objects. Certain words require the insertion of -t- (uguns [fire] > uguntiņš). Whilst diminutive endings can be applied to almost any noun in Latvian, they can sometimes have more specific meanings: e.g. maize = bread, maizīte = slice of bread;

    Dutch uses -je liberally, ‘koekje’ (‘little cake’) giving rise to American English ‘cookie’.

  10. David Eger says:

    …and, cognate with the Spanish augmentative -on, Italian and Portuguese have -one and -ão, respectively.

  11. TJ says:

    The name of “Kuwait” itself is a diminutive in Arabic, derived from “Kut” (or Kút) which refers to storage tower of a fort or maybe even a small fort.

    Diminutive nowadays, in Arabic, is common for personal names, specially when it comes to people of the desert (Bedouins that is). I have to admit not all their names are comprehensible for me since they are far off the standard Arabic.

  12. P. says:

    There’s a restaurant in NW Philadelphia called “Cafette”.

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