How to address someone whom I barely know

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I met this person at a cafeteria, and became friends. He's approximately the same age, but I don't know the exact age. The next time I meet him, how do I call him?

Is "陳先生!" good? Perhaps his full name, "陳OO!" "陳OO同志!"?
 
  • SuperXW

    Senior Member
    OMG! You are kidding right? Try 陳xx同志 and prepare to get your ass kicked. :D
    陳先生 is generally good.
    You may call him 小陳 if he's in your age and you are familiar with each other.
    Or maybe just say: "Hey! Chan!"...
     

    kareno999

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I met this person at a cafeteria, and became friends. He's approximately the same age, but I don't know the exact age. The next time I meet him, how do I call him?

    Is "陳先生!" good? Perhaps his full name, "陳OO!" "陳OO同志!"?
    If you are personal friends, full name is good. If business friend, probably 陈先生. Nobody uses 同志 these days except CCP party members and media.
     

    truthguy

    Member
    Chinese
    OMG! You are kidding right? Try 陳xx同志 and prepare to get your ass kicked. :D
    陳先生 is generally good.
    You may call him 小陳 if he's in your age and you are familiar with each other.
    Or maybe just say: "Hey! Chan!"...
    Right. Using "同志“ will definitely get your ass kicked after entering the 21st century. It is now only used in some formal circumstances (especially in propaganda media of mainland China) by people born before the 1950s or 40s. But this word in Chinese simply refers to the homosexual in our daily life.

    ”小陳“ may sound a little too intimate, in my opinion. Actually according to my experience I think "小+last name" are used by your boss if he/she is a few years older than you, especially when you are working in some state-owned enterprise. It sounds courteous. I never call my friends like that unless we are joking around.

    "陳先生” is appropriate. It just means "Mr. Chan" . It sounds natural for a foreigner to say that but for a Chinese we don't call our friends "X先生“ unless you had a quarrel with him/her, because it sounds too polite.

    Actually if it were me who met this friend in a bar, and we both feel good with each other, I would call him "陳兄” or "陳哥“ (Brother Chan). But don't say ”陳兄弟“ because that makes you someone who read too many kungfu novels. "陳大哥” would make him about over 10 years older than you.

    In fact, we usually put "哥” or "兄“ after a Chinese character of one's first name instead of the last name to show our friendship. This happens a lot especially when your first name has a masculine meaning, e.g. "超哥” “飞哥” ”伟哥“ (伟哥 happens to be the same meaning as Viagra) , but we rarely call people "静哥” “香哥” ”春哥“ unless you want to be sarcastic about a woman's over-maleness.

    By the way, if your friend is about 20 or 30 years old and doesn't seem to be too old-fashioned, you may try to call him "陳老師“ and ask him to take a picture with you, then see how he would react:)
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    "陳先生” is appropriate. It just means "Mr. Chan"
    Again, why do we keep referring to 陳 as "Chan" (see also post #2)?
    Our OP is supposedly in Taiwan (from his username) and is asking about standard Mandarin, why do we assume he's learning / speaking Cantonese?
     

    viajero_canjeado

    Senior Member
    English - Southeastern USA
    陳同學 works fine in Taiwan, especially if s/he is a student~
    If you're contemporaries, you can also call them by name. 「嘿,志廷,最近還好吧?」
     

    truthguy

    Member
    Chinese
    I wrote "Chan" mostly influenced by words like "Taipei" and "Jay Chou"( a prestigious Taiwanese Pop singer) so I thought in Taiwan they use the same kind of pinyin as HongKong.
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    I met this person at a cafeteria, and became friends. He's approximately the same age, but I don't know the exact age. The next time I meet him, how do I call him?

    Is "陳先生!" good? Perhaps his full name, "陳OO!" "陳OO同志!"?
    Yes, addressing him "陳先生" next time when you run in to him is perfectly fine and, not to mention, natural to me. And since both of you are about the same age, it is likely that he may ask you to dispense the formality and called his name (OO) instead.

    It works the other way around too. If he is the one initiated the conversation and addressed you as "Frenchman in Taipei 先生". You, too, may advise him to call you your given name.
     

    yangyh

    New Member
    Mandarin - Taiwan
    I found many replies in this thread misleading...... In Taiwan, if he's your personal friend, calling him by his Chinese name would work best. If a business friend, then "陳先生" would sound best. If you say "陳同志", I believe you will definitely get your ass kicked (and even much worse), as the word "同志" sounds so communist that people in Taiwan will feel extremely uncomfortable and might think you're playing with them. On the other hand, "小陳" sounds too Mainland Chinese, which is also not frequently used in Taiwan. "陳哥" works only when he is more than just an acquaintance of you (and he'd better be older than you or at least at same age, or it would sound very weird), which isn't really applicable in the case you mentioned. "陳同學" wouldn't work unless he's a student.

    My opinion: stick with "陳先生" or his Chinese name. Another way that works very well in Taiwan is to call him by his "English nickname", as most Taiwanese people would have one.

    Last but not least, "陳" is officially romanized as "Chen" in Taiwan. Romanization in Taiwan is really inconsistent and several different systems co-exist, which I know it's a great pain for foreigners (and even for us). However, that is mainly because we never use romanization system to learn Chinese since we were at school. In Taiwan, the system we use to teach kids Chinese is called "注音" (zhuyin), which consists of a bunch of symbols like ㄅㄆㄇㄈㄉㄊㄋㄌ. I don't want to say too much beyond the original topic of this thread. Feel free to look up the wiki page if you're interested.
     
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