Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When I was young, I read Traditional Chinese Reader's Digest. I noticed that the translation of husband is 外子. That's the first time I noticed this usage.

Anyone has any clue about why this is being used? Could it have come from another language? Or is it archaic usage?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

Old usage, exactly just from the First Person. Simply means the only important one who always work outside. so '外子' is husband. Another word '内人' means wife, also old usage.

share|improve this answer

外子 an archaic term, parallel to calling one's wife 内子. It was very common in Song dynasty(between 960 and 1279). Regarding its origins, the third volume of 《恒言录》 written by 钱大昕, a famous scholar in Qing dynasty(1636-1912), gives the following origin for 外子: "in Liang dynasty, a country during Southern and Northern Dynasties of China(420 - 589), the poet XuFei wrote a poem called “赠内诗" and his wife wrote a poem called "答外诗," and that's the origin of 外子 and 内子. By the way, 内子 and 外子 can only be used by a couple to refer to each other, meaning that you can call your husband 外子 or your wife 内子, but you never can call another women's husband 外子 or another man's wife 内子. Lastly, what I want to say is that now we never say 外子 and 内子 in Chinese-speaking countries, including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

share|improve this answer
    
I appreciate user238264 fixing my grammar mistakes. –  user3686 Dec 20 '13 at 6:00
    
I am really sorry that I made a common mistake of history!Actually,liang dynasty is a country during Southern and Northern Dynasties of China(420 - 589) ,which is founded and first ruled by XiaoYan.I am grateful for congusbongus's help. –  user3686 Dec 20 '13 at 9:35

This article may help you. I think it explained very well, if you can read Chinese.

share|improve this answer
2  
Linking is fine in answers, but you need to at least summarise what's said in the article as links do rot! –  deutschZuid Dec 18 '13 at 22:39

Although this would not strictly categorize as an answer since I didn't track down the exact source, referring to the wife as 內人 is still commonly used in written script. It probably (which I didn't track down the exact source) originated from the old tradition of young men leaving home working as government officials, military men or business people. By contrast, their spouse often stayed at home. And therefore 外 and 內 is referring to whether they stay at home.

share|improve this answer
1  
《辞源》 gives what you have said as the explanation –  user238264 Dec 18 '13 at 2:38
    
萌典 still has no origin. –  james sa Dec 18 '13 at 7:43

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.