The Definitive Guide to Addressing Your Taiwanese Relatives

If you’re part of a large Taiwanese family, and especially if you’re like me — American-born of Taiwanese parents — you understand the confusion of trying to figure out what to call your relatives. There are specific ways to address your older brother, your mom’s younger sister, or your dad’s older sister’s husband, or your dad’s youngest sister’s oldest son, etc.

My dad (lao peh / ah pah / papa), Jiann I. Lin 林健一, laid it all out for me. So print this out and keep it in your back pocket for the next family reunion.

Dad — lao peh / ah pah / papa
Mom — lao booh / ah booh / mamaParents — peh booh / lao peh booh / lao peh, lao booh

Wife — boh / tai tai
Husband — ang / ang saih
Husband & wife — ang boh / hooh tseh

Son — kian [nasal sound] / hao shinn [nasal sound]
Son’s wife — shim pooh
Daughter — tsa boh kian
Daughter’s husband — kian saih

Paternal grandpa — ah gong / lai gong
Paternal grandma — ah mah / lai mah

Maternal grandpa — ah gong / gwa gong
Maternal grandma — ah mah / gwa mah

Older brother — ah hian / dwa hian [nasal sound on “hian”]
Older brother’s wife — ah soh
Younger brother — shioh dih
Younger brother’s wife — shioh jimm

Older sister — ah jih / dwa jih
Older sister’s husband — jih hooh
Younger sister — shioh beh
Younger sister’s husband — beh saih

Grandchild — ah sun / sun nah
Grandson — dah boh sun (dah boh, meaning male)
Granddaughter — zah boh sun (zah boh, meaning female)
Great grand-parents — ah zoh (Your parent’s grandparents, male or female)
Great grand-children — gan nah sun

Father’s older brother — ah peh / dwa peh
Father’s older brother’s wife — ah mm
Father’s younger brother — ah jiak [ending -k lightly]
Father’s younger brother’s wife — ah jimm

Father’s older sister — ah koh / dwa koh
Father’s older sister’s husband — koh diun [nasal sound on diun]
Father’s younger sister — ah koh / shioh koh
Father’s younger sister’s husband — koh diun

Mother’s older brother — ah gooh / dwa gooh
Mother’s older brother’s wife — ah kimm
Mother’s younger brother — ah gooh
Mother’s younger brother’s wife — ah kimm

Mother’s older sister — ah yih / dwa yih
Mother’s older sister’s husband — yih diun [nasal sound on diun]
Mother’s younger sister — ah yih
Mother’s younger sister’s husband — yih diun

Father’s brother’s son — jiak peh hian dih (Your male cousin; for those older than you, jiak peh ah hian; younger than you, jiak peh shioh dih)
Father’s brother’s daughter — jiak peh jih beh (Your female cousin; older than you, jiak peh ah jih; younger than you, jiak peh shioh beh)

Father’s sister’s son — goh biao hian dih (older than you, biao hian; younger than you, biao shioh dih)
Father’s sister’s daughter — goh biao jih beh (older than you, biao jih; younger than you, biao shioh beh)

Mother’s brother’s son — gooh biao hian dih (older, biao hian; younger, biao shioh dih)
Mother’s brother’s daughter — gooh biao jih beh (older, biao jih; younger, biao shioh beh)

Mother’s sister’s son — yih biao hian dih (older, biao hian; younger, biao shioh dih)
Mother’s sister’s daughter — yih biao jih beh (older, biao jih; younger, biao shioh beh)