Chinese transliteration

Throughout this FAQ, whenever Chinese words appear we have tried to include the (simplified) Chinese characters, the pinyin, and the English translation. For the uninitiated, pinyin is the official method of romanisation for Chinese characters, and you can find a pinyin pronunciation guide here.

Unlike English, Mandarin is a tonal language and has 4 tones and a neutral tone, so reading pinyin is not only about how you pronounce the letters but also the intonation of your voice when you pronounce them.

Commonly used terms

Here are a few terms used throughout the FAQ whose meanings might not be immediately obvious:

  • 老外 - lǎowài - "foreigner": A common term for foreigner in Mandarin, literally "old foreigner". It is not a disparaging term, though some foreigners don't particularly like being called 老外 because they think it implies they are old, or totally ignorant of China. The word does not have these connotations. Other common words for the same thing are 外国人 - wàiguórén, 外人 - wàirén, and 洋人 - yángrén.
  • Puxi / Pudong: The two areas of Shanghai, located on either side of the river as described [#generalstuff below].
  • KTV: The Chinese term for karaoke.
  • Expat (short for "expatriate"): Somebody who lives (and usually works) outside of their native country.

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