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How many times have you been in the middle of a conversation with a Chinese person only to find yourself unable to find the right name for your father's oldest sister or mother's second youngest brother?
I know I'm not the first foreigner to find herself in this situation and, in the spirit of the holidays, wanted to share a Chinese family [Christmas] tree I've been busy piecing together with the help of my wonderful Discover Mandarin teacher, Huang.
The tree is comprehensive, but by no means exhaustive. If you know how to say the name of a family member who's not listed, please add it!
And if you know another way to say one of the family members who is already part of list, (different regions have different names for maternal grandparents, for example) please share that, too!
Consider this an overdue Christmas present! ;)
Let's start with the basics
爸爸，妈妈 bàba, māma
Brothers (older, younger)
Sisters (older, younger)
Grandpa, Grandma: paternal side
老爷，姥姥 AND/OR 外公，外婆lǎoye, lǎolao AND/OR wàigōng, wàipó
Grandpa and Grandma: maternal side
Aunts & Uncles
Uncle and Aunt: maternal uncle and his wife
Uncle and Aunt: paternal uncle (father's younger brother)and his wife
Uncle and Aunt: paternal uncle (father's older brother) and his wife
Aunt and Uncle: paternal aunts (father's sisters) and their husbands
Father's sisters (eldest-youngest)
Great-Aunt (mother's father's younger or older sisters)
Maternal Aunts (mother's older or younger sisters)
Mother's sisters (eldest-youngest)
Maternal Great-Aunt (mother's mother's younger or older sister)
Brothers and Sisters-in-Law
Brother and sister-in-law (Husband's younger brother) and his wife
Brother and sister-in-law (Husband's older brother) and his wife
Sister-in-law (husband's younger sister)
Corinne Dillon is the founder of Discover Mandarin, an online Chinese school offering 1-on-1 Chinese lessons live from Beijing
(photo by vitroid)
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