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Family Terms in Mandarin when there are big families

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I have a big family, and I'm wondering 1) how I would call each of my family members, and 2) how my children would call all of their aunts and uncles.


  •  I have two cousins who are my dad's sibling's daughter's younger than me, or 堂妹 (Táng Mèi). Would I call them both 堂妹 (Táng Mèi), or is there a way to differentiate?


  • I am the oldest of five children, so I have two 妹妹 (Mèimei) and two  弟弟 (Dìdì). The order is: Myself (female), Sister, Brother, Brother, Sister. How would we each call each other? (I would LOVE a long answer explaining from each sibling's perspective.


  • Because I have two 妹妹 (Mèimei) and two 弟弟 (Dìdì), my children will have two mother's younger brothers, or 舅舅 (Jiùjiu), and two mother's younger sisters, or 阿姨 (Āyí). How will my children differentiate? (This is the most important question because I plan to raise my children speaking Mandarin.)


I will appreciate all explanations, long or short! Thank you so much!

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I think you can go for younger/older 大/小 if your distinguishing between two cousins, or the other thing is numbers plus eldest - 大哥, 二哥 etc. That's ones I've heard used as a non-native so also interested when you get better answers.

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Both my American-born-Chinese friends and natives of China struggle with this.  Many use a numbering system, i.e., Auntie 1, Auntie 2, Auntie 3, etc.   (I realize you may want something more personal or technically correct.)  


Notably, those from 1 child families will rapidly lose this knowledge.  Even my friends with siblings and aunts/uncles often don't know the words.  As an extreme example, a friend from Xian has 14 aunts & uncles.  At family gatherings, she doesn't even know many of the kids.      



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9 hours ago, victoria63 said:

dad's sibling's daughter's younger than me, or 堂妹 (Táng Mèi).

Technically, it's only your dad's brother's children who are 堂X.  If they are your dad's sister's children they will be 表X.



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You need to distinguish how you would formally describe them from how you would refer to them in normal conversation. Conversational references probably vary by region, but if you're in Beijing, say, you can hunt down a 北京话词典.

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