Friday, November 18, 2011



Chinese people do not usually say "hello" or "hi" to people they do not know. At a business introductory meeting, it is customary to give a business or personal card when being introduced to someone. The Chinese usually do not shake hands at the first meeting.

 In traditional China people would not shake hands in greeting as is customary in the West. Instead, they would cover their left fist with their right hand or place palms together and, while making this gesture, would shake their hands up and down slightly and bow. Women would hold the end of their left sleeve with the right hand and, while doing so, would shake their hands up and down slightly for greeting. Thus, they would express good manners and respect.

When addressing people, whether old or young, they should be addressed as if they were higher up in the hierarchy. It is also customary to use terms borrowed from the family domain when addressing people who are not relatives. If the person is one generation older, he will be addressed as "uncle" ()()  (literally: father's older  brother) or (shū)(shū) (literally: father's younger brother). A woman from an older generation will be called "aunty" (ā)()  (literally: maternal aunt). Children too, when addressing adults, use family terms. For example, they will address a policeman as "uncle policeman" (jǐng)(chá)(shū)(shū),  and children from the upper grades as "big brother"  ()()() or "big sister" ()(jiě)(jiě).

People who are familiar (not including relatives) are addressed by using the title "Mister" (xiān)(shēng), which is also the way to address a teacher or an expert.

During meetings held for the first time, the subjects of conversation are usually different from those customary in the West. Questions referring to work, wages, family status and age, are not considered impolite. Such questions are the most common. On the other hand, questions about the family are avoided and considered strange.

When meeting familiar people it is customary to express closeness by asking questions such as "How is your health recently?" ()(zuì)(jìn)(shēn)()(zěn)(me)(yàng)?  "Have you already eaten? ()(chī)(fàn)(le)(ma)?  or "Where are you going to?" ()(shàng)()(er)()? 

In traditional China, saying "you have become fat" was considered a compliment.  On the other hand, saying to someone that he had become thinner would mean that the questioner was concerned about his health. 

When friends are leaving, the Chinese people usually express concern for their safety by saying "Have a safe trip" ()()(píng)(ān), "Be careful on your way" ()(shang)(duō)(jiā)(xiǎo)(xīn), or  "Walk slowly"  (màn)(zǒu) .As a separation gift, a hand-held fan (shàn)(zi) would be given to the departing friend, hoping that he would use it on his way.

In many Chinese romances, it is described how a man who leaves his wife for a long time breaks a round mirror into two pieces, and each spouse keeps one piece. By matching the two pieces, they will thus recognize each other when they eventually meet again. If one of the spouses has been unfaithful, his or her piece of mirror will become a magpie. When the mirror becomes restored to a whole it will mean that the couple are back together.[1]



Cowherd [and] a weaving maid

A slender chance of meeting.  

This is based on a popular legend,[2] associated with the Women's Festival, which was celebrated in traditional China on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

Today this phrase refers to a married couple who live separate lives.





Reunion after a long separation is preferable to the wedding night



Green soybeans cooked with tofu – a person who meets with his own family member

Said of people who have much in common.



A toad stares – wants to jump again

Said of a person who wants to make a comeback.

Well  water does not invade river water – Nan (literally: south) Mountain does not lean on Bei (literally: north) Mountain – each one goes his own way
Said of people who have a disconnected relationship (often with family members).
This also means "everybody minds his own business".
Each goes his own way



Twice the character “(shān)“ one above the other – please go!

The character (chū) (literally: go) is comprised of twice the character (shān)(literally: mountain) placed one above the other.



Meeting each other is easy, living together is difficult



A good separation is more important than a good meeting

[1] See also the idiom: A broken mirror restored in the chapter on love and marriage.
[2] See also the idiom: The seventh day in the seventh lunar month – the shepherd meets the weaving girl in the chapter on love and marriage.

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