Cross Talk! On the Chinese Vocabulary: 姑妈 & 姑娘 (Beginner)

Key Learning Points (Preview):

姑娘 (gūniang) n. girl

姑妈 (gūmā) n. aunt

During the Spring Festival Gala of 2011, the cross talk show “四海之内皆兄弟” (Sì hǎi zhī nèi jiē xiōngdi) All Men Are Brothers” was performed in Chinese by a pair of foreigners. Watch the cross talk show:

The show contains the following humorous dialogue.

Da Shan: “Let me “介绍 (jièshào) introduce” Summer to all of you,she is a Russian”姑娘 (gūniang) girl.”

Summer: “You can call me ‘姑妈 (gūmā) aunt,’ because in Chinese, ‘娘 (niáng)’ and ‘妈 (mā)’ both mean ‘mother.’ ”

The whole audience laughed. Do you understand why?

In ancient China, people used the word “娘 (niáng)” to address their moms. For example: “娘, 我回来了 ( Niáng, wǒ huílái le)” means, “Mother, I’m back.” In modern society, Chinese tend to use “妈 (mā)” to address their mothers,.and seldom use the word “娘 (niáng).” That is to say, “娘 (niáng)” and “妈 (mā)” both mean “mother.”

In the dialogue, Summer makes a mistake when she suggests that if Da Shan can call her “姑娘 (gūniang),” then he can also call her “姑妈 (gūmā).” Actually, when Chinese use “娘 (niáng)” and “妈 (mā)” to form new phrases, the meaning varies. “姑娘 (gūniang)” means “girl” in Chinese, but “姑妈 (gūmā)” means “aunt,” referring to one’s father’s sister. Obviously, “姑妈 (gūmā)” is not equal to “姑娘 (gūniang).”

Key Learning Points:

姑娘 (gūniang) n. girl


Tā shì gè qínfèn de hǎo gūniang.
她 是 个   勤奋   的   好   姑娘。
She is a very diligent girl.

姑妈 (gūmā) n. aunt


Dìdi de nǚr chūshēng le, wǒ yào dāng gūmā lā!
弟弟的女儿 出生       了,我 要    当    姑妈   啦!
My brother had a daughter, and I’m going to be an aunt!

0 thoughts on “Cross Talk! On the Chinese Vocabulary: 姑妈 & 姑娘 (Beginner)”

  1. I’ve recently been learning the Mandarin language. I learned that 姑妈 are the Chinese characters for “aunt.”Can you tell me how to say “uncle” in Chinese?

  2. I’ve learned the Mandarin language for almost 3 years, and I’d love to add more words for addressing family members.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top