Monday, October 02, 2006

Addressing Chinese

Chinese family name comes first and then a given name. Generational and given names can be separated by a space or a hyphen, but are frequently written as one word. For example, in the case of Teng Peinian, Teng is the family name and Peinian is the given name. Therefore, it is always a good idea to ask a native speaker which name is the family name. The first names of those born during the cultural revolution era usually carries political meaning showing support toward Chairman Mao and his wife, Jiang Qing.

For business purposes, it is traditionally acceptable to call a Chinese person by the surname, together with a title, such as "Director Wang" or "Chairman Li." Avoid using someone's given name unless you have known him or her for a long period of time. If a person does not have a professional title, address a person using his or her family name only, such as Mr. Chen or Ms. Hsu. Formality is a sign of respect, and it is advisable to clarify how you will address someone very early in a relationship, generally during your first meeting.

Do not try to become too friendly too soon, and do not insist that your Chinese counterparts address you by your given name. The American pattern of quick informality should be resisted.

A married Chinese woman usually retains her maiden name; she will use her husband's last name on occasions for formal addressing only.

Address people using official titles such as "General" "Committee Member",or "Bureau Chief" whenever possible. It is customary to address the deputies by skipping the word 'deputy,' such as, 'Chief' for 'Deputy Chief,' 'Chairman' for 'Vice Chairman' 'General Manager' for 'Assistant General Manager'.

Unless you're a Communist, never refer to someone as “Comrade”, which means guy.

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