If you spend any time chatting online with Chinese friends or if you communicate with online sellers on Taobao or another web sales platform, it’s very likely that you’ll be addressed with a word that most translation applications will read as “Dear.” The first time it happens, you may be a bit alarmed…thinking perhaps that your relationship has become more intimate than you’d planned.
Fear not, we’re here to explain why. The word “Qin亲(qīn)” is the short form of “亲爱的(qīnài de), which translates as dear. While Dear is used to address relatively informal letters in the west, calling a random stranger“dear” online is not a typical way to interact.
To gain some perspective, it is important to remember that all languages are constantly evolving and changing. More and more Chinese people use the Internet as a social and shopping portal and increasingly, words are created or given new meaning by this collective group known as netizens.
If you need to ask a seller from an online store a question, the accepted first salutation is亲, 在吗Qīn, zàimɑ? – translated as “Dear, are you online?”
Similarly, when using QQ, WeChat or other social media applications, friends and acquaintances utilize亲, 在吗Qīn, zàimɑ as an opening line as it expresses a warm and welcoming tone.
Of course, 亲爱的qīnài de can also be used in its original, more traditional form and meaning.
For example “亲(qīn)” can be used as a noun referring to the members of family with blood or marriage relations to you. Relatives such as parents, uncle, mother in law and other are generally called“亲人(qīnrén,).”
Jim shì Tom de qīnérzi.
Jim is Tom’s own son.
Secondly, “亲(qīn)” can be translated into close, intimate or dear to express the intimate relationship. We have “亲密(qīnmì,) close.” You can say: “亲密的小伙伴。(qīnmì de xiǎohuǒbàn,) close friends.”
Finally, “亲(qīn)” also can be used as a verb indicating kiss.
Language is more than just a collection of vocabulary and grammar rules. To truly learn a language you must have an understanding of current culture, historical context and the ability to adjust and adapt to changing trends.
At Hanbridge, we teach our students to not only speak Chinese, but also give them the tools to think Chinese and to understand and master the cultural nuances that allow for true language mastery. We’d love to work with you for Chinese online learning. Contact us to take a free trial lesson today.