Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course
Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

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Beginners’ Chinese: a taster course

3.2 Professional titles and basic professions

Read the culture note and the reflection note that follows. Then reflect on your own culture.

Culture note: professional titles

China is very much a hierarchical society, where titles are important. Chinese people like to address each other by attaching professional titles or official positions, such as 老师 lăoshī (teacher) or 医生 yīshēng (doctor), to a family name. So you might hear someone being addressed as 李老师 Lĭ lăoshī (Teacher Li) or 王医生 Wáng yīshēng (Doctor Wang), for example.

Reflection point ( 想一想 Xiǎng yi xiǎng )

In what contexts would you address people by their professional titles in your own culture? ‘Minister, could you clarify…’; ‘Madam Chairman, it is clear that…’; ‘Doctor, could you tell me…’ Can you think of any other titles that you would use in everyday life? Does the use of professional titles indicate respect for some professions above others, or is it just a matter of convention? Do you think that forms of address are becoming less formal?


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