logo
g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Career
Computers
Education
Family
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
Money
News & Politics
Relationships
Religion & Spirituality
Sports
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

dailyclick
Bored? Games!
Nutrition
Postcards
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

new
Bible Basics
Houseplants
Romance Movies
Creativity
Family Travel
Southwest USA
Irish Culture


dailyclick
All times in EST

Full Schedule
g
g Chinese Culture Site

BellaOnline's Chinese Culture Editor

g

Chinese Family – Brothers and Sisters

Guest Author - Caroline Baker

Family is an important part of Chinese Culture. Where you sit within the family determines what level of clout you have and say in things that occur. Because of its importance, there is a whole language created to emphasis this.

In the English language, we refer to our siblings as simple brothers and sisters. We might go a step further by saying they are our "older" or "younger" brother or sister. But there isn’t much credence of differentiation made because of this designation other than age.

In the Chinese language, the older vs the younger version of a sibling have entirely different names. An older brother is "ge ge," a hard g sound to symbolize the strength of this person as compared to the speaker. A younger brother is "de de," a much softer sound. Likewise, an older sister is "jie jie," with a hard sound to the word. A younger sister is "mei mei," a much softer sound. All of these designators are in reference to oneself or the primary noun of the sentence.

Chinese also designate siblings based on the order of birth. So it's not uncommon in more traditional families to hear them refer to, "this is first brother" or "this is third sister." The position, or pecking order, is important to traditional families as it referred to what level of authority and duties you had to perform for the family.

As one might guess from a fairly male dominated world, the first brother had the heaviest burden in terms of responsibilities and expectations. But they also had the greatest benefits normally in terms of education and opportunities. The first brother was expected to make a name for the family and carry on the lineage. Should something happen to the first brother, the natural line of progression would extend down based on the position in birth -- second, third, etc -- to assume the duties of the first son.

On the other side of the gender fence, the first sister often was the one looked at for helping to raise her younger siblings. In lieu of any mother or aunt, she would be the one to help run the household. Of course, this changes when she is either married out to another family or her first brother marries and his wife takes over the head position in the matriarchal side of the family.

Speaking of marriage, when a female marries, their "titles" only expand. They remain the sister position of their biological family. They also gain the new title, and a level of the responsibilities and pecking order, of their husband. So a daughter who was the first girl to be born and marries the second son of another family is both "first sister" and "wife to second brother." And when she bears a child, if that child is the first son to be born into the family, she could become "mother to first son," depending on what customs the family followed.

If this were not complicated enough, Chinese tend to believe that in some way everyone is "related" to everyone else. Thus as a sign of respect, one would often call friends or acquaintances that have no blood relation to them as their brother or sister. If the person is older than the primary noun, they would use the older versions of the term, and conversely the same with someone younger.

This actually isn't that uncommon from some more urban colloquialisms that have occurred in the United States, where people refer to those they feel akin to as their "bro" or "brother" and "sis" or "sister."

What all these separation of the simple terminology of siblings does is give the family structure and identity in just a few short introductions, something that is fairly critical in a traditional Chinese family.
Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Twitter Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Facebook Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to MySpace Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Del.icio.us Digg Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Yahoo My Web Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Google Bookmarks Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Stumbleupon Add Chinese+Family+%96+Brothers+and+Sisters to Reddit




RSS | Related Articles | Editor's Picks Articles | Top Ten Articles | Previous Features | Site Map


For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Chinese Culture Newsletter


Past Issues


print
Printer Friendly
bookmark
Bookmark
tell friend
Tell a Friend
forum
Forum
email
Email Editor


Content copyright © 2014 by Caroline Baker. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Caroline Baker. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Inci Yilmazli for details.

g


g features
Owls in Chinese Culture

Chinese Valentine's Day

Book Review: Chinese Calligraphy Made Easy

Archives | Site Map

forum
Forum
email
Contact

Past Issues
memberscenter


vote
Poetry
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Less than Monthly



BellaOnline on Facebook
g


| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2014 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.


BellaOnline Editor