One linguistic device that is found in the Somali language — and a few other languages such as Georgian, Turkish, Russian, Romanian, Italian and Arabic — is the generational reverse-role-address. In the Somali language, children (and adults) address their father and mother in the usual way, calling them “aabbo” (father) or “hooyo” (mother). Now the interesting part is that our parents address us using the same terms. Native Somali speakers often take this for granted, not realising its usefulness and the emotional wisdom behind it. I myself, just recently wondered why we instinctively employ this language device and pass it on to our children. It undoubtedly became clear that this address encodes a variety of functions such as love, sympathy, endearment, equality and asymmetry.
When our parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts address us in this way, it invokes an implicitly egalitarian relationship that they conferred upon us. As a result, it softens the effect of parental (or elderly) commands, removing any form of inclination to non-compliance. We instantly feel appreciation (and slight admiration) and have a greater need to appease their requests to our best of ability. When Hooyo/Aabbo placate their most ungrateful child with ‘Hooyo/Aabbo macaan’, better believe that he/she is more acceptive to act on their requests.
There is beauty in our language.