Cantonese Vocabulary
Family Terms

\ga\ \tihng\

family

ax

\ga\ \yahn\

family member

aH

\chan\ -chik-

relative

˱

/jou/ \sin\

ancestor

\sin\ \saang\

Mr./husband

jeuhng \fu\

husband

V

/louh/ \gung\

husband

Ѥ

taai /taai/

Mrs./wife

Ӥ

/louh/ \poh\

wife

ѱC

Family relationships have historically been an important part of Chinese culture.  Relational terms give some insight to divisions in Chinese thinking.  They are divided along paternal and maternal lines as well as differentiated for elders and juniors.

Within families people often refer to one another by their relational title rather than their name.  This often extends outside the family, with people applying generic terms for "brother", "sister", "uncle", "aunt", etc. to strangers, in part to establish accepted social relationships based upon age and status.

fuh /mouh/

parents

@

/jai/ /neuih/

children

Jk

\ba\ \ma\

Mom & Dad

sai -man- /jai/

children

ӰAJ

\bah\ \ba\

Dad

/jai/

son

J

\mah\ \ma\

Mom

/neuih/

daughter

k

fuh \chan\

Father

\hing\ daih

brother
(general)

S

/mouh/ \chan\

Mother

\goh\ \go\

brother
(older)

-suk- -suk-

uncle
(general)

daaih /lou/

brother
(older)

j

baak fu

uncle
(father's older brother)

B

sai /lou/

brother
(younger)

Ө

a \suk\

uncle
(father's younger brother)

\daih\ /dai/

brother
(younger)

̧

/kauh/ /fu/

uncle
(mother's brother)

/ji/ muih

sister
(general)

jf

a -yi-

aunt
(general)
(mother's younger sister)

/jeh/ \je\

sister
(older)

jj

\gu\ \ma\

aunt
(father's older sister)

h

\ga\ \je\

sister
(older)

aj

\gu\ \je\

aunt
(father's younger sister)

hj

\muih\ /mui/

sister
(younger)

ff

\yih\ \ma\

aunt
(mother's  older sister)

sai /mui/

sister
(younger)

өf

a \yeh\

grandfather
(father's father)

/biu/ \go\

cousin
(older male)

a \gung\

grandfather
(mother's father)

/biu/ /dai/

cousin
(younger male)

a \mah\

grandmother
(father's mother)

/biu/ /je/

cousin
(older female)

j

a \poh\

grandfather
(mother's mother)

C

/biu/ /mui/

cousin
(younger female)

f

Note that many relational terms can be reduplicated to make them more intimate.  For example an "a \yeh\" can also be referred to as "\yeh\ /yeh/" to show closeness.  Many relational terms can also be prefixed with "-a" to express familiarity.  For example, a "\goh\ \go\" can be referred to as "a \go\" to express a casual relationship.

Tone shifts are common in relational characters.  This is particularly evident in reduplication.  In such cases the first character's tone usually changes.


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