The Chinese character “niang” and “ma” both refer to the “mother”. But you can’t replace it optionally, or you’ll make a joke.

zài hàn yǔ zhōng , hàn zì “ niáng ” yǔ “ mā ” yí yàng , dōu shì zhǐ  mǔ qīn 。dàn bù kě yǐ suí yì tì huàn , fǒu zé jiù huì nào chū xiào huà 。

在汉语中,汉字“娘”与“妈”一样,都是指母亲。但不可以随意替换,否则就会闹出笑话。

12There was a British foreign student who has just come to China to learn Chinese. He found a beautiful Chinese girl at school and fell in love with her. So he wrote her a love letter. He wanted to write girl-“gu niang”, but forgot how to write “niang” suddenly. So he used “ma” instead of “niang”. However,”gu niang” means girl and “gu ma” means aunt in Chinese.

yǒu yí ge gāng gāng dào zhōng guó xué hàn yǔ de yīng guó liú xué shēng , zài xiào yuán kàn shàng le yí wèi piāo liàng de zhōng guó nǚ shēng 。 yú shì tā gěi tā xiě qiú ài xìn ,tā xiǎng xiě “ gū niang ”, tū rán wàng le “ niáng ” zěn me xiě , biàn zì zuò cōng ming , yǐ “ mā ” dài “ niáng ” 。 dàn shì zài hàn yǔ lǐ , gū niáng shì nǚ hái de yì sī , dàn shì gū mā de yì sī shì bà bà de mèi mei 。

有一个刚刚到中国学汉语的英国留学生,在校园看上了一位漂亮的中国女生。于是他给她写求爱信,他想写“姑娘”,突然忘了“娘”怎么写,便自作聪明,以“妈”代“娘”。但是在汉语里,姑娘是女孩的意思,姑妈的意思是爸爸的妹妹。

So the beginning of his letter was not “dear girl”, but “dear aunt”.

suǒ yǐ , tā de xìn kāi tóu xiě de bù shì “ qīn ài de gū niáng ” , ér shì “ qīn ài de gū mā ”。

所以,他的信开头写得不是“亲爱的姑娘”,而是“亲爱的姑妈”。