Chinese follow a different pattern than most Western names. The Chinese first name is the family name (the last name for foreigners) and their last name or names are their given names.
Western names use the following pattern:
Chinese names reverse that order:
So a Westerner would say Dr. Wen-Wei Chen,
Formality and Respect
In Chinese, it is polite and customary to first ask a person's surname. While the translation to English may appear overly formal, Chinese culture demands the honorific "gui4 " when asking a person's surname.
As shown in the dialog patterns above, most questions using question words can be answered by:
More details on how to form Chinese questions will be covered in a later lesson.
Learning Hints/Additional Information
1. Mandarin has several "intimate" forms that are very commonly used. One of these using the pre-fix "xiao3" 小 before the person's surname to show familiarity. For example: My name is Pei2 Wei3 Xuan1 裴伟轩. People familiar with me might call me "Xiao3 Pei2". In addition to "xiao3" (small), you could also use "lao3" (old) for a person who is your senior, or is respected.
2. Chinese has several words borrowed from English. These are called "transliterations", where a Chinese sound is used to make an English word. "bai4 bai4" is a prime example as the Chinese sound matches the English word "bye bye" perfectly. There are extremely few cognates between English and Mandarin, but these borrowed words can help in learning the language.
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