Chinese vs English family tree – language reflects culture

Language reflects the underlying culture. In a Western context, the family typically refers to the nuclear family – father, mother, sister, brother.  Your father’s brother is your uncle. So is your mother’s brother.

Did you know in the Chinese language there’s a lot more fine-tuning:

Uncle (Father’s older brother)

English: Uncle –

Father’s older brother
Pinyin: bó fù
Chinese: 伯父
Audio Pronunciation

Uncle (Father’s younger brother)

English: Uncle – Father’s younger brother
Pinyin: shū fù
Chinese: 叔父
Audio Pronunciation

Uncle (Mother’s brother)

English: Uncle – Mother’s brother
Pinyin: jiù jiu
Chinese: 舅舅
Audio Pronunciation

In Chinese culture, the

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“family” goes beyond the nuclear family, and includes members of the extended family, so various terms have been developed to allow a greater appreciation of where everyone fits in.

Check out this youtube clip which demonstrates the Chinese family tree. It’s brilliant!

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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.

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