Friday, December 12, 2008

How do Chinese call their relatives?

In the western world, grandchildren call their grandparents from both their parents' sides as "grandma" and "grandpa" and call their parents siblings as "uncle" and "aunt".

In the Chinese world, little ones call everybody differently. Even if a stranger walks by your kid and hears how he/she calls his/her grandma, this person can figure out right away from which side of the family his/her grandma from. The same rule applies to when the kid calls their uncles and aunts.

Let me give you some examples how we call our grandparents:

Grandfather from my father's side - "Ye ye"

Grandmother from my father's side - "Ma ma" (It sounds like calling your mother. But the tune is very low. It's very different.)

Grandfather from my mother's side - "Gung gung"

Grandmother from my mother's side - "Pau pau"

In the western world, when your kid calls his/her uncle, he/she may call him as "Uncle Joe" in which that person's first name is included. In the Chinese culture, nobody is allowed to do so. This is seen as disrespect, even among siblings. But in this new generation, certain families are not as strict as it used to be.

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