Here's a simple example.
Take my dad, for instance. He's the third child in his family of 2 elder brothers, an elder sister, 2 younger brothers and a younger sister. From young, we were taught to address Dad's elder bothers as "pak" and his younger ones as "sook", His elder sister is "gu ma" and the younger one is "gu".
Confused already? And I haven't even started on the uncles' wives and aunts' husbands and my mom's side! Maternal aunts and uncles and their spouses and kids have different titles too! Hmmm, I wonder if that's the reason China introduced the one-child policy?!!!! LOL! Interestingly, how does one address a gay relative and his or her partner/spouse?
This system is spot-on though. Say a friend tells you her ''sei yee cheong" is visiting, you know at once that she's referring to her 4th maternal aunt's husband. "Sei" is the number 4, "yee" is a younger sister of your mom and "yee cheong" is the husband of your mom's younger sister. And if she tells you her "gu poh" has passed on, you would know that she's referring to a sister of her paternal grandfather.
I am wondering - how do you address the ex-husband of your mom's divorced sister? Ex-yee cheong? We never found out 'cos he passed on before my sisters and I were born!
Here's a video to share
My mind exploded after the first 10 seconds! My boys are lucky I do things the easy way out, They generally address all their aunts and uncles as Aunty and Uncle. So my younger sister is just Aunty J to them and Aunty J's husband is Uncle William! Anyway, I only have an elder and younger sister which means my boys only have to remember "Tai Yee" (Big Aunty) and "Sai Yee" (Small Aunty). That shouldn't be too difficult!
So Good Luck to Jenny on her visit to China!
|From left - Tai Pak (eldest paternal uncle), Yee Pak (second eldest paternal uncle, Sook Jai (youngest paternal uncle)!|