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Learn Chinese - Practical Chinese
“Tónɡ zhì!” One fashionably dressed woman shook hands with a gentle-like guy. Both seems excited and address each other with a low but a meaningful tone. It is a common scene when those who took part in the Communist Party (also called underground party around 1930s for it is illegal) learned the other’s real identity in the TV drama or movie reflecting the revolutionary theme. In that situation, tónɡ zhì has more revolutionary style, revealing those who are addressed tónɡ zhìare striving for one great and lofty cause.

After 1949, tónɡ zhìbecame popular among common people to address each other. Its revolutionary style was weakened and became more casual. Another address “xiān shēnɡ” is seldom used for it had something to do with capitalism-before 1949, the female rich guy, most of whom are exploiting class, were addressed xiān shēnɡ.

Now, tónɡ zhìare still used with a formal and serious meaning, which usually goes after one’s name in some reports of official media. xiān shēnɡ is also more formal but it usually used to address people in Business occasions. In some important parties, one well-educated woman love to introduce her husband as “zhè shì wǒ xiān shēng.” When she talk with some close friends, she usually says “wǒ lǎo ɡōnɡ” when she mentions her husband.

It deserves a mention there is a new meaning of the word tónɡ zhì. Be careful to use it in some casual occasion, for it may link to GAY in some occasions. In Chinese daily life, tónɡ shì is more commonly to address their coworkers and tónɡ xué is widely used among students to address their classmates.

Words and Phrases:

同志 tónɡ zhì

同事 tónɡ shì

同学 tónɡ xué

先生 xiān shēnɡ

老公 lǎo ɡōnɡ






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