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rivercao

"foreigner" in Chinese

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rivercao

This just came up in my mind when I was posting another thread in Chinese corner.

How many expressions regarding "foreigner" are there in Chinese? Here's my vocabulary(some of the words are very impolite, with racism and nationlism, so I certainly don't recommand them):

外国人: foreigner, a fomal way

洋人: foreigner, initially used when China was invaded by West

西人: Westerner, people from western world

西方人: same as above

西洋人: same as above

鬼佬: ghost guy, in oral converstions

外国佬: foreigner, used by those who want to differentiate foreigners and themselves.

老外: outsider ,a very casual way

外宾: foreign guest, very polite, formal, used when foreigners are travelling in China.

白人: white people, the same as its English meaning

白种人: same as above, more formal

老美:old American, friendly and casual

黑人: black man, not very polite

黑鬼: black ghost, very impolite

老黑:old black, sounds friendly but still impolite

棒子: stick, means Korean, indicate that they are inferior

高丽棒子: same as above

鬼子: ghoster, means Japanese, a term stemed from II World War, very hostile

小日本: little japanese, hostile and scornful

阿三: the third, means Indian, scornful

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rivercao

When I was writing the term 外宾, the word remind me of the school's disciplines I had learnt in my primary school: 遇外宾时,不得围观尾随,不随意接受外宾礼物。:mrgreen:

Today I look back at this and find it's quite interesting and ridiculous...It was about 15 years ago though. Some dated terms are really weird.

But, 外宾 now is still used in hotels, airports, ...and I don't know if primary schools have amended their disciplines.:D

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doraemon

I'm not definitely sure if this is the case, but any description of a person using the word 佬 sounds derogatory to me.

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Lu

To me 佬 just sounds a term for familiar people, about on the same level as a nickname: fine and even affectionate if friends use it, impolite if others do. But I might be wrong.

鬼佬 is really derogatory, in my opinion. I'm a person, not a ghost or devil.

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imron

You forgot arguably one of the most hated terms by foreigners living in China - 外国朋友

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Kenny同志

You forgot arguably one of the most hated terms by foreigners living in China - 外国朋友

How come, Imron? It's a very friendly term. Is it due to the broadness of 外国?

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Shi Tong

There's also (白鬼 bái​guǐ​ "white ghost", derogatory term for caucasians (Cantonese)), says it's Cantonese here, but I've heard it shouted in Mandarin in Taiwan.

I'm not definitely sure if this is the case, but any description of a person using the word 佬 sounds derogatory to me.

I think it depends how it's said, and if you want to take offence to it. I think 外国佬 and 老外 can both sound bad, just depending on how someone uses it. I've had people shout 老外 at me, which is annoying, especially when they say: "老外老外老外" :angry: , however, if someone says they like 老外's, or they're just using it as a colloquial turn of phrase, I dont think it's purposefully rude.

What I find slightly annoying is that people tend to call people by their nationality until they become white, at which point, they're all grouped together as either 老外 or 黑人, so grouped by colour.

It's like someone in England meeting any asian person and just calling them Chinese or Asian or something.

The most annoying of all of these is to be called 美国人 when one is not.

Dont get me wrong, I love Americans, I just dont want people to assume I'm American.. just like I'm sure a Japanese person would think it could be annoying to be constantly called Chinese.

BTW, what do you call a 黑人 politely? I've heard this so many times, I just thought this was the normal way of pointing out someone who is 黑?

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skylee
Dont get me wrong, I love Americans, I just dont want people to assume I'm American.. just like I'm sure a Japanese person would think it could be annoying to be constantly called Chinese.

vice versa. this image comes to mind : I was in Turkey. A group of students saw me, and they went "japanese .... heheheh .... japanese ... hehe..." Then I was in Ljubliana, Slovania. And people spoke to me in Japanese ...

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rivercao

I'm not definitely sure if this is the case, but any description of a person using the word 佬 sounds derogatory to me.

The word 佬 is neutral in my view, I can give you some examples:

和事佬: a peace-keeper

大佬: boss, header or chief

乡巴佬: hick

阔佬: rich guy

So '佬' is similar to 'guy' in English IMO.

To me 佬 just sounds a term for familiar people, about on the same level as a nickname: fine and even affectionate if friends use it, impolite if others do. But I might be wrong.

鬼佬 is really derogatory, in my opinion. I'm a person, not a ghost or devil.

鬼佬 really sounds derogatory, though the native Chinese may not really want to show disrespect. In Australia some of my friends call local people 鬼佬, but I don't, I call them 本地人.

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Xiwang

One I sometimes use is 番子 (fānzi: barbarian, foreigner) when I run into expats who annoy me. The use by Chinese possibly stems from the historical belief that the world was made up of only three types of creatures: the Chinese, the beasts, and the barbarians.

Interestingly, one of the acceptable measure words for 番子 is 位 (wèi), which is the polite measure word often used with guests and people in authority. It just goes to show that the Chinese can be polite to barbarians as the latter cannot help being who they are.

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chrix
How come, Imron? It's a very friendly term. Is it due to the broadness of 外国?

No, it's due to 朋友. We're not your friend just because we're foreigners, we're friends because of personal friendship. That said, in the English-speaking world, the concept of "friend" is still broader than in German. The then German chancellor Gerhard Schröder said in an interview once that he was honoured to count the then party chairman, Franz Müntefering, as one of his few friends in politics. Müntefering then said he had no friends in politics (his daughter later explained that her father only had had one friend in life, from school, and he had already passed away). So with that kind of idea about friendship, it would be quite bewildering to be called "friend" by strangers ;)...

The search function isn't working properly now, but I believe this has come up before here.

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xianhua

And for the children of laowai, 洋娃娃. I also had the misfortune to be addressed as 洋鬼子 on my last trip to China. The guilty party definitely meant it in a derogatory manner. He seemed rather sheepish once he knew I'd understood and started to question his 礼貌.

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Ah-Bin
vice versa. this image comes to mind : I was in Turkey. A group of students saw me, and they went "japanese .... heheheh .... japanese ... hehe..." Then I was in Ljubliana, Slovania. And people spoke to me in Japanese ...

Yeah, when I was a kid in NZ all foreign tourists of East Asian appearance were "Japanese" - now it is the opposite and the kids all call them "Chinese" not matter what.

外国佬: foreigner, used by those who want to differentiate foreigners and themselves

in Liuzhou and the 官話 speaking town in Guangxi they say 外國佬 but it sounds like wae2-guo3-la4 - nothing to do with differentiation, just the ordinary word that they use when speaking.

Now for some Hokkien ones:

Some other ones are 番仔 (pronounced huan-a) from Amoy (Xiamen) - used for white foreigners - seems like this has been borrowed (as "fanzi") into Mandarin.

Taiwanese use a word a-tok-a, the initial a- is a familiar prefix used for relations and friends. Tok has something to do with the height of the nose, (just looked it up and it might be 卓 pronounced "tok" meaning "lofty, erect or eminent"!) and a is a suffix like 子. Maybe it's 阿卓仔. I've never heard it ued in a bad way, more in a jocular fashion.

紅毛 ang-mo "a red-hair" this one is used in Singapore and Malaysia

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Kenny同志

No, it's due to 朋友. We're not your friend just because we're foreigners, we're friends because of personal friendship.

The term is merely a general friendly&polite way to refer to a foreigner. It doesn't necessary mean he is a friend of the speaker in real sense. So in my view, it might be because of the broadness of 朋友 in Chinese. :)

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rivercao

Thank you all for the complement. And I also recalled some words which are common:

番邦:foreign countries

蛮夷/四夷: barbarian tribes

异族人/番人: foreigners

洋鬼子: foreign ghosts

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chrix

kenny, I know that's not the implication in Chinese, and so my anecdote was not very suitable here.

But that said, do you know of any other situations where 朋友 is used in that way? Because it seems to be used in that "empty" way only with 外國人, and that might create some kind of (if unintended) patronising impression for the foreigners addressed that way (I think the complaint is commonly heard about using it in English though, a la "foreign friends", which is clearly wrong in English).

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trien27

To me 佬 just sounds a term for familiar people, about on the same level as a nickname: fine and even affectionate if friends use it, impolite if others do. But I might be wrong.

鬼佬 is really derogatory, in my opinion. I'm a person, not a ghost or devil.

佬 is from Cantonese. It means "a mature/experienced male". When it was used 鬼佬 = 鬼, from 洋鬼子, a derogatory term for foreigners [especially those Western Europeans who first step foot in China] + 佬, meaning someone who's mature or experienced [This actually stems from old Chinese thinking, "How can they be better than us?"].

It doesn't mean it's for familiar people. It could be used in someone's nickname to imply that whoever had this nickname are more mature or have somewhat better experience than the group. As nickname goes, even though 佬 is attached, the meaning might be the opposite (only the group would know what it really means).

紅毛 ang-mo "a red-hair" this one is used in Singapore and Malaysia

紅毛 / 紅毛鬼 was first used to describe those redheaded Europeans, such as the Vikings [紅毛 is probably from Erik the Red, etc...

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imron
How come, Imron? It's a very friendly term. Is it due to the broadness of 外国?
Chrix has pretty much nailed the answer here, in that it's frequently used in a very patronizing way. I can't think of too many foreigners I know that like this term.

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roddy

If you're my friend, ask my name. Or at least figure out which country I come from.

I'm more tolerant of the term than I used to be, but it still grates a little. Has come up before.

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