5 Groups Of Important Cantonese Vocabulary For Family

July 12, 2021

What does a typical family in Cantonese culture look like? Hong Kongers are family-oriented. Most of the families in this country live in nuclear families because of the high cost of living spaces in Hong Kong. But, what's fantastic about them is they still maintain the traditional Chinese concepts like family solidarity and family glory even though there are many influences from Western culture.

Hong Kongers' family culture is guided by filial piety, which is common for most Southeast Asian countries. In this culture, hierarchal seniority is determined by age which means, all the family members are expected to show respect to their elders. In fact, they pay respect to their ancestors at least twice a year. There are different ways to pay respect to elders, and one of them is through language. So, let us learn this Cantonese vocabulary for family (家庭  gaa1 ting4).

 

Family Members In Cantonese

Cantonese Vocabulary For Family

Just like in another culture, each family members in the Cantonese culture have their own responsibilities. But, the Cantonese family tree is more complicated than other cultures. It may be very daunting to learn at first, but once you've got to practice it yourself, you'll understand it better. What can be confusing at first is that Cantonese terms differ from the maternal or paternal side. But, you don't have to worry because the terms you'll learn below have English translations that will help you get through.

You also don't have to memorize every Cantonese vocabulary for a family written in this post if you are not marrying a local or have a close friend who practices this culture. Instead, you may start learning about the nuclear family and consider other relatives as a bonus.

1. 父母  (Fu6 Mou5) - Parents

Parents are the heart of every family. Traditionally, the father is the main provider and the head of the family, while the mother takes care of the household. But, in these modern times, women have proven their place in society, so many families in Hong Kong hire a maid to the house chores while both parents are working.

So, if you want to learn the Cantonese vocabulary for family related to parents, please refer to the words below:

 Father 

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
父親fu6 can1Father (formal- written)
爸爸 baa4 baa1Father (less formal – both written and spoken)

Mother

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
母親mou5 can1Mother (formal written)
媽媽maa4 maa1Mother (less formal both written and spoken)

2.  孩子 (Haai4 Zi2) (FormalWritten) - Children

Children are expected to be respectful and obedient to their parents. Because parents want their children to succeed in life, they provide their children a quality education. So, if you want to learn Cantonese vocabulary for family related to children, create a room in your mind for these words:

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
小朋友siu2 pang4 jau5Children (less formal both written and spoken)
仔女zai2 neoi2Children less formal both written and spoken)
兄弟姊妹hing1 dai6 zi2 mui6Siblings

Son, Younger Brother, Elder Brother, Grandson,

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
zai2Son
哥哥go4 go1Elder brother
弟弟dai4 dai2Younger brother
孫仔syun1 zai2Grandson (son’s son)
外孫ngoi6 syun1Grandson (daughter’s son)

Daughter, Younger Sister, Elder Sister, Granddaughter

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
neoi2Daughter
姐姐ze4 ze1Elder sister
妹妹mui4 mui2Younger sister
孫女syun1 neoi2Granddaughter (son’s daughter)
外孫女ngoi6 syun1 neoi2Granddaughter (daughter’s daughter)

3. Grandparents

Just like what is written above, Cantonese culture is rooted in the Confucian belief - filial piety. Other family members respect Elders. This is also why sending grandparents to the home for the aged is not a practice in Cantonese culture. Elders are expected to be treated with respect, love, and kindness by the family for a lifetime. So, here's the Cantonese vocabulary for family related to grandparents that you need to know.

Grandfather

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
爺爺je4 je2Grandfather (father’s father)
公公gung4 gung1Grandfather (mother’s father)
外公ngoi6 gung1Grandfather (mother’s father)

Grandmother

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
 嫲嫲maa4 maa4Grandmother (father’s mother)
婆婆po4 po2Grandmother (mother’s mother)
外婆ngoi6 po4Grandmother (mother’s mother)

4. Relatives (親戚 chānchìk)

Relatives are also valued in the family. Although most Hong Kongers usually live with the nuclear family, the extended family is still important for them as they believe in the concept of family glory. So you'll bring your family's reputation to everything you do. This is the part mentioned above where terms depend on the maternal or paternal side.

Brace yourself with more Cantonese vocabulary for family. Of course, this would not be that useful when you're just traveling, but it would still be great if you have an idea about this.

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
姨姨ji1 ji1Aunt (general)
姨媽 ji4 maa1Aunt (mother’s elder sister)
 阿姨aa3 ji1Aunt (mother’s younger sister)
舅母kau5 mou5Aunt (mother’s brother’s wife)
姑媽gu1 maa1Aunt (father’s elder sister)
姑姐gu1 ze1 Aunt (father’s younger sister)
伯娘baak3 noeng4Aunt (father’s elder brother’s wife)
阿嬸aa3 sam2Aunt (father’s younger brother’s wife)
叔叔suk1 suk1Uncle (general)
舅父kau5 fu2Uncle (mother’s brother)
姨丈ji4 zoeng2Uncle (mother’s sister’s husband)
伯父 baak3 fu6Uncle (father’s elder brother)
叔父suk1 fu6 Uncle(father’s younger brother)
姑丈gu1 zoeng2Uncle (father’s sister’s husband)
zat6Nephew (brother’s son)
外甥ngoi6 saang1Nephew (sister’s son)
侄女zat6 neoi2Niece (brother’s daughter)
 外甥女ngoi6 saang1 neoi2  Niece (sister’s daughter)
堂阿哥tong4 aa3 go1Elder male cousin (father’s side)
表哥biu2 go1Elder male cousin (mother’s side)
堂細佬tong4 sai3 lou2Younger male cousin (father’s side)
表弟 biu2 dai2Younger male cousin (mother’s side) 
堂家姐tong4 gaa1 ze1Elder female cousin (father’s side)
表姐biu2 ze2Elder female cousin (mother’s side)
 堂細妹tong4 sai3 mui2Younger female cousin (father’s side)
表妹biu2 mui2Younger female cousin (mother’s side)

5. Terms For Married Couple (夫婦 fu1 fu5)

Last but not least are the terms for married people. Marriage is important in Cantonese culture. Their beliefs and traditions are rooted in the traditional Chinese culture, wherein they believe that family is the most important thing in life. So if you marry someone, you will not only marrying that person but their whole family. You have to respect them the way you respect yours. So if you are planning to marry a local, it is essential to learn Cantonese vocabulary for families related to married people.

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
配偶pui3 ngau5Spouse
先生sin1 saang1Husband
丈夫zoeng6 fu1Husband
太太taai3 taai2Wife
妻子cai1 zi2Wife
 奶奶naai4 naai2Mother-in-law (husband’s mother)
外母ngoi6 mou2Mother-in-law (wife’s mother)
老爺lou5 je4Father-in-law (husband’s father)
外父ngoi6 fu2Father-in-law (wife’s father)
女婿neoi5 sai3Son-in-law
新抱san1 pou5Daughter-in-law
阿嫂 aa3 sou2Sister-in-law (elder brother’s wife)
弟婦dai6 fu5Sister-in-law (younger brother’s wife)
姑奶gu1 naai1Sister-in-law (husband’s elder sister)
姑仔gu1 zai2Sister-in-law (husband’s younger sister)
大姨daai6 ji1Sister-in-law (wife’s elder sister)
姨仔 ji1 zai2Sister-in-law (wife’s younger sister)
姐夫ze2 fu1Brother-in-law (elder sister’s husband)
妹夫mui6 fu1Brother-in-law (younger sister’s husband)
大舅daai6 kau5Brother-in-law (husband’s elder brother)
舅仔kau5 zai2Brother-in-law (husband’s younger brother)
大伯daai6 baak3Brother-in-law (wife’s elder brother)
叔仔suk1 zai2Brother-in-law (wife’s younger brother)

 

Words And Phares Related To Family

Now that you have learned the Cantonese vocabulary for family, you are now ready to use those in sentences for better pronunciation. Here are some sentences you can use to practice your spoken language about Cantonese vocabulary for family.

CantonesePinyinEnglish Translation
我 哋 一 家 四 口。ngo5 dei6 yat1 ga1 sei3 hau2。We are a family of four.
呢 位 係 我 爸 爸。ne1 wai2 hai6 ngo5 ba4 ba1。This is my father.
呢 位 係 我 媽 媽。ne1 wai2 hai6 ngo5 ma4 ma1This is my mother.
呢 個 係 你 個 仔。ne1 go3 hai6 nei5 go3 jai2。That is your son.
呢 個 係 你 個 女。ne1 go3 hai6 nei5 go3 neui5。That is your daughter.
佢係我大佬keoi5 hai6 ngo5 daai6 lou2He is my elder brother.
我妹妹去咗英國留學。ngo5 mui6 mui2 heoi3 zo2 jing1 gwok3 lau4 hok6.My younger sister went to England to study abroad.
我哋係老公老婆ngo5 dei2 hai6 lou5 gung1 lou5 po4We are husband and wife.

 

Going On A Trip To Hong Kong? Learn Cantonese Now!

Hong Kong is a place where you can bring your whole family, from youngest to oldest, to enjoy. So if you are planning a trip to this country, make sure to back yourself up with Cantonese phrases like basic words and phrases, travel phrases, saying 'Thank You' and saying 'Sorry.' Not only will it make your travel smoother but you'll also have the opportunity to connect with the locals and understand their culture better. But, how will you do that? It's easy, learn Cantonese with Ling App.

Ling App is a language learning app developed to help language learners learn languages conveniently and fun. If you often bring a dictionary with you, with Ling App, you don't have to because everything can be learned as long as you have a phone/computer and internet connection. Vocabularies are arranged like flashcards with audio recordings from native speakers.

What more can you ask for? Say goodbye to books and start learning Cantonese and other languages now!

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