Monday, June 18, 2012

Mandarin Mondays: 哥哥 (Older Brother)

Andrew hugging a little brother as they look at the fish
Andrew is growing so fast and seems a lot older lately now that he is speaking in sentences and using the potty quite well most of the time. We've already announced that he has a younger sibling due to arrive on the outside in the fall. But Andrew is already getting called older or big brother (gēge, 哥哥) on the playground.

I've mentioned before that in Mandarin people traditionally use family terms to relate to people even outside their family. This is especially true among children. When we first arrived Andrew was almost always the little brother (dìdi, 弟弟), when we would be out and about. This is in part because they usually don't put kids down to play outside until they can walk well, because well the ground can be dirty from kids playing in split pants. So most of the kids around were his age or older, or they were being carried around constantly and not really interacting.

Now there are different one-year-olds running around, but Andrew is older and much bigger. So now he gets to be the older brother (gēge, 哥哥) to Chinese babies even before he meets his new sibling in the fall and finds out if it is a younger brother (dìdi, 弟弟) or a younger sister (mèimei, 妹妹).

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