In the last lesson, I showed you How to say mom, dad and baby in Chinese? In todayâ€™s lesson, the Chinese words I will teach teaching are aunt and uncle.
As you learned from the last lesson, the English language does not differentiate between paternal and maternal relations. There is not a distinction for the maternal and paternal grandparents they are all â€œGrandmaâ€ and â€œGrandpaâ€. Similarly, â€œauntâ€ is for bother fatherâ€™s sisters and motherâ€™s sisters. Fatherâ€™s brothers and motherâ€™s brothers are both called â€œuncleâ€.
In contrast, the Chinese language places an importance on the differences between paternal and maternal relationships. In the Chinese language the words for â€œgrandmaâ€ and â€œgrandpaâ€ of paternal side and maternal side are strictly distinguished in pronunciation and writing.
The same rule applies to â€œauntâ€ and â€œuncleâ€ in Chinese language. The Chinese word yima is for aunt on momâ€™s side, and guma, dadâ€™s side. Similarly, â€œuncleâ€ on momâ€™s side translates as jiujiu, and bobo or shushu, dadâ€™s side, depending on the age.
You may notice there are two words for â€œuncleâ€ on dadâ€™s side, while only one word on momâ€™s side. This is because, traditionally, paternal relatives are regarded as basic units of Chinese social structure; more attention is paid to addressing the paternal relationship. A typical example is that specific terms are used to address different relations in accordance with their different ages in paternal family, while in maternal family this kind of delicate detail is ignored.
As a result, both for â€œuncleâ€, bobo is for dadâ€™s older brother, shushu for dadâ€™s younger brother, whereas jiujiu is universally used for momâ€™s older and younger brother.
On the other hand, dadâ€™s older and younger sisters are both called guma. There is not a different word for the dadâ€™s older sister vs. younger sister, since Chinese society traditionally pays more attention and respect to men than women.
You may wonder: if dad has more than one bobo or shushu, how would you address them? This is a good question! In that case, the ordinal numbers are prefixed to these terms, such as â€œfirst boboâ€, â€œsecond boboâ€, or â€œfirst shushuâ€, â€œsecond shushuâ€ and so on.
To make it easy for baby to start, letâ€™s assume dad only has two brothers, older brother bobo, and younger brother shushu.
Letâ€™s take a look.
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What do you think? Drop me your comments, ideas, suggestions or complains here, so that I can keep improving this program. I hope you and your baby like the series and continue learning Chinese week by week, month by month, year by year.