Family titles

OK, folks,

I’m still looking for reference material that charts out all the different titles of people in your family. I don’t think I’ll ever find one, either.
I’ve never taken time to learn all those titles, and nobody deserves a black belt in Mandarin unless they know the titles inside and out. The differences basically boil down to “Mom’s side” vs. “Dad’s side”, “Mom’s side” is easier because it goes into less specifics, right (重男輕女 mentality)? So if you’re interested, let’s figure it all out and I’ll put it in a neat little chart.

Mom’s side
cousins: 表…哥弟姐妹
all Mom’s brothers: 舅父 and their wives: 舅母
Dad’s side
cousins: 堂…哥弟姐妹
Dad’s big brothers: 伯父 and their wives:伯母
Dad’s little brothers: 叔父 and their wives: 嬸母

So the only tricky one here is “Dad’s little brother’s wife”, since you might think it should be “叔母”, but ah-hah! You are mistaken. A Black Belt would know that 叔父 is married to 嬸母

Actually, a black belt would know that 嬸母 is also known as 叔母 or 嬸娘. But ST, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. An almost perfectly round wheel can be found here.

Actual usage may vary by geography and/or dialect.

The link above mentions 堂兄 although 堂哥 is perfectly appropriate as well. Based on my experience, it’s also a more popular usage. 堂家姐 sounds right in Cantonese but in Mandarin, 堂姐 is the correct version. In Cantonese, elder sisters are commonly called 家姐 although that usage is rare in Mandarin. Based on the name of the website, it appears the website owner is of Cantonese decent (surname Kwan 關).

I believe 妗子 as an informal version of 舅母 is wrong. 大妗子 refers to 嫂 while 小妗子 refers to 弟婦. An alternate version of 舅母 is 舅媽.

姑媽 and 姑姐 can also be informally referred to as 姑姑.

新抱 for 媳婦 is a purely Cantonese usage. Or is it? I don’t know enough dialects to know for sure. :slight_smile: But 新抱 is certainly not Mandarin usage.

There are also missing entries for paternal grandmother’s brother (father’s mother’s brother) and paternal grandmother’s sisters. They are known as 舅公 and 姨婆 respectively.

Don’t forget to add 大, 二, 三, etc. in front of titles as appropriate. Personal names in front of titles are also acceptable depending on the situation.

These titles will often be in the appendices of a fairly comprehensive Chinese dictionary. But I’m too lazy right now to go and get it.

Now how many ways can you say husband/wife in Chinese? Loads of fun there as well. :slight_smile:

EDIT: Oh oh…don’t forget the famous “dry” father/mother/siblings to refer to one’s “god” family (as in godmother 乾媽, godfather 乾爸, etc.). It’s not exactly the right translation since it doesn’t have the same religious meaning, but it’s close enough.

Oh, thanks! That’s the chart I’ve been looking for!

Yes, I was talking about Mandarin only, but the other Chineses are welcome, too.

Why are there so many movies about 十三姨?
Is the 十三姨 more special than the rest?

十三姨 was the love interest of 黃飛鴻. Surely, you must know who 黃飛鴻 is, right? :sunglasses:

[color=blue]An interesting side note (perhaps better placed in Culture and History).[/color]

黃飛鴻 (1847-1925), has the world record of having the most movies made about him – over 100 – the most famous of these starred Jet Li as 黃飛鴻. In these movies, 十三姨 is almost always portrayed as a love interest. With over 100 movies made about 黃飛鴻, it’s no surprise to see spinoff movies about 十三姨.

In the second installement of the movies starring Jet Li, 黃飛鴻 was credited with helping Sun Yat-Sen escape the Qing army, which by implication, meant that he was indirectly responsible for taking down the Qing dynasty. All fiction, I’m sure. The movies starring Jet Li are quite good, imho. But then again, I like kung-fu movies. :sunglasses:

十三姨 was, in reality, based on 黃飛鴻’s fourth wife 莫桂蘭. His previous three wives had all died. In the movies, 十三姨 was typically of similar age as 黃飛鴻. In reality, 莫桂蘭 was 49 years his junior and married him when she was 19.

A little know fact is that 黃飛鴻 has a link with Taiwan. Born in Guangdong and lived in or around Guangzhou for most his life, he went to Taiwan at the age of 47 in 1894 to fight against the Japanese invasion. He was stationed in Tainan. After losing to the Japanese, the Qing government ceded Taiwan to Japan. 黃飛鴻 stayed on and fought under the banner of the newly formed Republic of Formosa. He returned to Guangdong in 1895 after the fall of the new Republic to the Japanese.