about the Chinese word 'aunt'
|From:||Cheng Zhong Su <suchengzhong@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, December 15, 2001, 22:13|
As I have said, In Chinese language, jie=older
sister; mei=younger sister, and jie mei=sister.
Some one asked that the word aunt at least include
four peoples; fathers sister, mothers sister,
fathers brothers wife, and mothers brothers wife.
So what will be a Chinese word for aunt? Isnt it
need four words (or characters) to express the meaning
of aunt? My answer is that in fact the Chinese
language didnt have a right word for aunt. For
during the history, they didnt use such a word. Yet
in recent time, people in south east China, sometimes
dont want others know the detail of what
relationship of that person. When they only want
express a person of his fathers generation, he just
borrows an English word uncle. I believe, it would
be like many other borrowed words, soon or later split
into two words (or characters) un and kao. The
reason of change cle into kao is in current
mandarin, they dont allow two consonant come
together. After this arrangement, both un and kao
will automatically have the meaning of uncle
separately; the reason to put them together is that as
some linguists point out, all languages speaker like
two syllables sounds. But you may see in Chinese
language there is a dozen names for uncle, and it
could be separated into dozens groups. For instance,
from 12 elements we take 3 for group every time we may
have, 12×11×10/(3×2×1)=220 groups. In that case,
Chinese people will use one of the un and kao to
indicate a male person of fathers generation, and put
un or kao to indicate the group. For instance, I
have said Chinese like put tang in front for
fathers side, and biao in front of mothers side.
So the word tangun means a person of fathers
generation from fathers side. While the biaoun
means a person of fathers generation from mothers
side. You may notice, they only use un not kao,
the reason is they always take the first syllable,
until one day they cant. I have said, four to five
thousands characters sharing 1200 phonetic types, it
would be four characters sharing one phonetic type.
So if by coincidence another group have the same
phonetic type with an old group. Then the kao
would be put in use. For instance we have Aun, Bun,
Cun, Dun and Eun, one day we need another group, it
has the same phonetic type with Aun, then they use
Akao instead Aun for distinction.
Su Cheng Zhong
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