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Cantonese Names for Family Members


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 02:11 AM

Could someone please advise what the Chinese names for Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather are on the paternal side.

I have managed to find out that Grandfather is A Yeh and Grandmother is A Mah.

As I do not read Chinese could it please be posted phonetically.

Thank you.

#2 MengTzu

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 02:17 AM

Could someone please advise what the Chinese names for Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather are on the paternal side.

I have managed to find out that Grandfather is A Yeh and Grandmother is A Mah.

As I do not read Chinese could it please be posted phonetically.

Thank you.


Grandfather on dad's side = yeh yeh
Grandmother on dad's side = mah mah
Grandfather on mom's side = gong gong
Grandmother on mom's side = por por
Great Grandfather on dad's dad's side = tai yeh
Great Grandmother on dad's dad's side = tai mah
Great Grandfather on mom's mom's side = tai gong
Great Grandmother on mom's mom's side = tai por

Not sure about the following:

Great Grandfather on dad's mom's side = tai gong
Great Grandmother on dad's mom's side = tai por
Great Grandfather on mom's dad's side = tai yeh
Great Grandmother on mom's dad's side = tai mah

Confused yet? :blink: The difficulty doesn't end there: there are tones in Chinese dialects. Hence Grandmother (mah mah) is pronounced in a lower tone while Mother (mah mah) is pronounced either in a higher tone, or the first word is pronounced in a lower tone and the second word is pronounced in a higher tone. A lot of Cantonese in Hong Kong call your parents Daddy and Mommy (they tend to pronounced this "ma mi") or in my family, we call dad "ba ba" and mom "ma mi." If you think this is tough think about this:

we call dad's brothers "bak" (older) and "sok" (younger), and their wives "sum";
we call dad's sisters "gu ma" (older) and "gu jeh" (younger), and their husbands "gu jurng";
we call mom's brothers "cao fu", and their wives "cao mo";
we call mom's sisters "yi ma" (older) and "yi" (younger.), and their husbands "yi jurng";
we call cousins who are children of dad's brothers and (not sure) male cousins "tong gor," (older boy) "tong dai," (younger boy) "tong ga jeh," (older girl) "tong mui," (younger girl) but all the other cousins "biu gor" (older boy), "biu dai" (younger boy), "biu jeh" (older girl), "biu mui" (younger girl.)

Back in ancient times, the titles are even more specific and varied.

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 03:55 AM

[quote name='MengTzu' date='Nov 20 2005, 07:17 AM' post='4771212']
Grandfather on dad's side = yeh yeh
Grandmother on dad's side = mah mah
Grandfather on mom's side = gong gong
Grandmother on mom's side = por por
Great Grandfather on dad's dad's side = tai yeh
Great Grandmother on dad's dad's side = tai mah
Great Grandfather on mom's mom's side = tai gong
Great Grandmother on mom's mom's side = tai por

Thank you so much for your prompt reply. With regards to grandparents I had seen on one site that it said mah mah and yeh yeh but on another it said ah mah and ah yeh and this is what my husband thought that it was. Can you explain the difference please. My husband's family family were Jiangmen - I don't know if this makes a difference at all.

Thank you.

#4 MengTzu

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 05:38 AM

Basically, ye ye and ah ye are the same. Ye ye is more endearing, ah ey is more vulgar (not necessarily in a rude, disrespectful way, though; a lot of times Cantonese people use rude-sounding words as an expression of friendliness and informality -- being informal shows that you are really good friend with someone. This is kind of like American kids using cuss words in everyday conversation to keep it informal.)

Notice that ye ye, ah ye, etc, are not formal titles. But I don't want to confuse you anymore so I won't tell you what the formal titles are =). I guess you can say it's like grandmother is formal and grandma is informal. Cantonese almost never use formal titles, unless when there is not differentiation between formal and informal, or if the formal version is more popularly used.

Btw, I've been describing Hong Kong Cantonese, which might be different.

#5 Lin Duanwen

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Posted 20 November 2005 - 06:33 AM

Jiangmen people are Sei-yap Cantonese. I thought they call paternal grandfather as "ah gong" and paternal grandmother as "ah ho". We call father's (older)brothers' wives "miao" and (younger)brothers' wives "sum".
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#6 xng

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Posted 21 November 2005 - 06:41 AM

Could someone please advise what the Chinese names for Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather are on the paternal side.

I have managed to find out that Grandfather is A Yeh and Grandmother is A Mah.

As I do not read Chinese could it please be posted phonetically.

Thank you.



It should be

taai yeh for great grandfather
taai ma for great grandmother.

The 'taai' means great.

Edited by xng, 21 November 2005 - 06:42 AM.


#7 qrasy

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 12:34 AM

Jiangmen people are Sei-yap Cantonese. I thought they call paternal grandfather as "ah gong" and paternal grandmother as "ah ho". We call father's (older)brothers' wives "miao" and (younger)brothers' wives "sum".

How about the others of Sei Yap family members (since the terms are different from Guangzhou) ?
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#8 Alexandra

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 02:01 AM

I am more and more confused ......

It seems that most people agree that grandfather can be either Ah Yeh or Yeh Yeh and that grandmother can be Ah Mah or Mah Mah. This seems to be agreed whether it is Cantonese or the Sze Yap dialect.

The difference seems to be in the great grandfather and great grandmother (on the paternal side) and it seems to change as to whether it is Cantonese or the Sze Yap dialect.

Am I right in thinking that most people think that it should be Taai Yeh and Taai Mah.

If there is still disagreement would anyone on the forum know where I could get a correct answer or is it one of those things that are interchangeable such as in English we would use Grandma, Grandmother, Nana, Gran and they all mean the same.

Thank you to all who are trying to help me.




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