(zen3 me.) (tan2 lun4) (guan1 yu1) (ni3 de.) (lao3 gong1)
(how to) (to discuss) (about) (your) (husband)
I like to talk about my husband
(yin1 wei4) (wo3) (ai4) (ta1) (er2 qie3) (ta1) (shi4) (hen3) (bang4)
(because) (I) (love) (him) (but also) (he) (to be/is) (very) (great)
Because I love him, and he is also great!
There are two main ways to talk about a husband in Chinese.
(yi1 ge4) (jiao4 fa3) (hen3) (ke3 qi4)
(one) (way of calling) (very) (polite)
One way of saying it is very polite.
In any writing that is more formal than relating everyday conversations, you will see the word:
(first, foremost) (to live)
With this title, the husband is given a place of preeminence, but we’ll get back to that more later.
However, a more casual and endearing reference is:
This was confusing for me to understand, because in my culture, calling someone “old man” is considered disrespectful. What I needed to understand is that reverence for age is built into the Chinese language.
(shang4 zhong1 wen2 ke4) (yi3 hou4) (wo3) (chang2 chang2) (shuo1), “(xie4 xie.) (hen3) (hao3 de.) (lao3 shi1).”
(Chinese lesson) (after) (I) (often) (say, to speak), “(thank you) (very) (good) (old teacher).”
After a Chinese lesson, I often say, “Thank you, wise teacher.”
Because in Chinese one doesn’t just say “teacher,” one says “very old, wise, revered teacher,” to show respect and appreciation.
We can see this mirrored in English just a bit in the common phrase, “he is an old hand at that.”
In Chinese, they say something very similar:
(zai4) (zhe4) (fang1 mian4) (ta1) (shi4) (lao3 shou3)
(at) (this) (square side or side of the square = in this area or subject) (he) (is) (old hand)
He is an old hand in this field.
Respect carries over into the words for “wife,” too. The husband may be “first,” but the respectful word for wife is:
(very big, much, too, over)
This is a doubling of one of the words used in indicating “extremely over”, so
(na3 pa4) (xian1 sheng1) (di4 yi1) (zai4) (jia1) (tai4 tai.) (hai2 shi4) (zui4 gao1)
(even if) (husband) (first) (at) (home) (wife) (still) (highest level)
Even if the husband has first standing, the wife is still higher.
I couldn’t help but remember the other first way I learned to use the word 太 (tai4)：
(dang4) (wo3) (qu4) (mai3) (dong1 xi1) (de. shi2 hou4), (wo3) (chang2 chang2) (shuo1), “(zhe4 ge.) (shi4) (tai4) (gui4) (le.)!”
(word used to begine “when” phrase) (I) (to go) (to buy) (things) (when), (I) (often) (say), “(this) (is) (too) (expensive) (emphasizes that is how it is)!”
When I went shopping, I often said, “This is too expensive!”
Then, I couldn’t help but think that some husbands think,
“(wo3 de.) (tai4 tai.) (tai4) (gui4)
“(my) (wife) (too) (expensive)…”
“My wife is too expensive…”
But I’m sure they still think of them in terms of endearment similar to 老公 (lao3 gong1)。
In recognition of long term and close relationship, a wife is often 老婆 (lao3 po2)。
Interestingly, both words here mean “old”, the second, 婆 (po2), specifically meaning “old woman” in a general respectful way. It is used to refer both to a grandmother or a mother-in-law or any elderly woman you want to show respect for.
I am supposed to practice my Chinese at home,
(na3 pa4) (wo3 de.) (lao3 gong1) (ting1 bu2 dong)
(even if) (my) (husband) (listen not understand)
Even if my dear hubby does not understand.
I will have to come to terms with the difference in the languages if I want to use the best word for the circumstance and relationship.
(ke3 neng2) (wo3) (hui4) (jiao4) (ta1) (shuo1) “(lao3 po2), (wo3) (ai4) (ni3).”
(perhaps) (I) (will) (to teach) (him) (to say), “(old woman), (I) (love) (you).”
Perhaps I will teach him to say, “Dear wife, I love you.”
An audio version to listen to for practice: