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Traditionally, when there were three or four generations used to live in the same compound, when there are tens or possibly more than a hundred people that one needs to recognise and address correctly, only a hierarchical system could avoid the confusion.


First of all it is extremely rude to address oneís elder by his or her name.

A whole range of vocabulary exists to precisely identify an uncle, as shown in the following table.

It is not uncommon that a traditional ethnic Chinese does not know his uncle or auntís real name.

Terms used for the uncles are as follows: 

Elder brother of your father [bo bo]

Younger brother of your father [shu shu]

Brother of your mother [jiu fu]

Husband of a mother's sister   [yi zhang]

Husband of a father's sister   [gu zhang]

Hence your third [shu] should be the third amongst your fatherís brothers, younger than your father.

Your second [guzhang] would be the husband of the second sister of your father.

The list for aunts are as follows:

Sister of your father [gu]

Sister of your mother [yi]

Wife of your fatherís elder brother [bo bo] [bo mu]

Wife of your fatherís younger brother [shu shu]

Wife of the your motherís brother [jiu fu] [jiu mu]

  More information could be found in chapter seven of the book

For more information please contact the author