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Couplemania for Polyglots July 8, 2012

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Your Responses Requested!.
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Copious Readers,

Here at Onely we often use the terms couplemania, matrimania, marital privileging, or heteronormativity to describe the act of favoring paired people at the expense of singles. (Heteronormativity often refers to an anti-gay attitude where the perpetrator thinks that the male-female couple complex is superior to–or more normal than–a same sex couple complex, but the term also applies when favoring any couple complex over a single person.)

But in the interest of going global with our mission, we wondered: how would one say these things in other languages? We were first drawn to this idea by fellow blogger and fellow Oneler Rachel, of Rachel’s Musings. She taught us that couplemania in German is Pärchendiktatur (literally–and rather obviously–“pair dictatorship”).

Even better is the Mandarin Chinese phrase for matrimania: 婚姻 狂热, or “marriage fanaticism”.

(In case our non-Chinese-speaking readers want to challenge matrimania on their vacation to Beijing–probably not recommended–we present this handy pronunciation guide: hun1yin1 kuang2re4, where 1 is a high tone, 2 is a rising tone, and 4 is a sharp downward tone, as you might use when saying, “No!  I do not care if I don’t have a husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/date.”)

We also figured out how to say “singlism” in Chinese: 单身 歧视, literally “single-person discrimination” (dan1shen1 qi2shi4).

We got our Chinese translations from the groundbreaking book Singled Out  by social scientist and singles advocate Bella DePaulo, PhD, who coined the original English terms. (Yes, Singled Out has been translated into Chinese!) But we need you, Copious Readers, to help us with our collection. Can you give us non-English versions of our favorite words? If you speak another language but don’t know the correct word for matrimania, or singlism, or marital privilege, or heteronormativity, then just make one up!

Thanks, Danke, 谢谢,

Christina (and Lisa)

Photo credit: David Rumsey


1. Bella DePaulo - July 9, 2012

This is so great! Thanks.

2. Kim Calvert - July 9, 2012

Love it!

3. Rachel - July 9, 2012

It might help with the development of this vocabulary in other languages by using the method that i am guessing Bella DePaulo used: Look at other stereotypes!

“Singlism,” at least as a term, is similar to racism and sexism. So, in German this would mean that singlism would be Singlismus (like Rassismus and Sexismus).

“Matrimania” could be translated directly, too. So, in addition to Pärchendiktatur, the German word could be Hochzeitswahn (wedding mania) or Ehewahn (marriage mania). Similarly, couplemania could be Pärchenwahn.

Onely - July 16, 2012

Wonderful, thanks Rachel!

4. clofa - July 11, 2012

Mmm, interesting 🙂
I don’t know if Arabic characters will show up, so kindly delete my post if it looks like gibberish.

A couple of notes first:
-Anything non-heteronormative is rarely discussed in the mainstream in Arab countries and even more so in Arabic, so I don’t think any of the words have a “formal, adopted” translation, but I’ll use Rachel’s technique which seems most logical 🙂
-The Arabic language doesn’t have the English language’s ability to lump different words together to make up a new one, so every one of the above words has to be translated into 2 or more words.
-There are a few letters in Arabic that don’t exist in the English alphabet, so even though I’m transcribing the pronunciation, it’s actually pronounced a bit differently. When texting each other in Arabic using Latin letters (transliteration), we use numbers to fill in for the missing letters (I used the apostrophe here).

Couplemania: هوس العشق pronounced “hawas el’oshk” and literally means “Obsession with romantic/sexual love” (in Arabic, there are different terms for “love” depending on the “type” of love; “‘oshk” or “‘ishk” is reserved for “passionate, romantic, sexual love.” I didn’t use the translation for “couple” because in Arabic it’s the same root of the words “marriage” and “married,” so I’m reserving it for “matrimania.”

Matrimania: هوس الزواج pronounced “hawas elzawaj” and literally means “Obsession with marriage.”

Marital privileging: تفضيل المتزوجين pronounced “tafdil elmutazawijin” and literally means “preferring married people.”

Heteronormativity: اعتبار الجنسانية المغايرة معياراً. This is a long one, lol. I actually use this one when translating to Arabic or writing in Arabic and it’s pronounced “i’tibar eljensaniyah almughayira me’yaran.” Literally, it means: “considering heterosexuality the norm.”

5. clofa - July 11, 2012

I forgot the most important one (which I misused in my very first post here!):
Singlism: التمييز ضدّ العزب pronounced “altamyiz dod el’ozb” and literally means “discrimination against single people.”

Onely - July 16, 2012

Thanks again. We are so excited to have such a variety of Arabic and German terms.

Onely - July 18, 2012

CLOFA, this is amazing (this is Lisa). I am so excited to see this. I’m going to hang out in all the cool Beirut coffeehouses and educate people about the problems of “hawas elzawaj”!!!!

Thanks so much — Lisa

clofa - July 22, 2012

LOL, actually, thank ‘you’ for that! You might actually find better luck in Beirut because people there are a bit more diverse and seem more open to the idea that marriage isn’t the only goal in every human being’s life.

6. RachelAB - July 18, 2012

I hope to collect more translations by posting a call for words to my Facebook wall but i only got one:

‎”zevyaromania” (couplemania in Greek)

Onely - July 22, 2012

Nice! Thanks Rachel. I love this project.

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