How should I address young women in mainland China?
In Taiwan and Hong Kong I often talk to young ladies using “小姐", but in Mainland China this word became a synonym for "prostitute." "xiao jie" used simply to mean "young woman" as a term of address or a description (literally "little older-sister")
Which word should I use when I'm there?
- Anonymous8 years agoFavorite Answer
The vast general Mainlanders particularly those coming from smaller cities and villages call women "Ah yi". In business world people will address a woman as "Nu zhi" or "Fu ren" if she's married.
- 8 years ago
Xiao Jie is quite acceptable in formal business settings.
And staff often call female customers by Xiao Jie.
Ah Yi is an informal address to mid to older women which don't look pretty.
It is not suitable to call your boss, professionals or government officials Ah Yi.
Da Jie is an informal word for people of some postion. Not recommend to use it.
Acceptable informal addresses include Mei Niu or Liang Niu(Cantonese), meaning pretty girl. They are used informally to young women on the streets, waitresses, flight attendents...They are not used if the girls are considered not pretty obviously. Calling someone Mei Mei means you are obviously older than them.
- 8 years ago
Spectacular answer by Shodow Y. In Taiwan, we still use "xiaojie" without it being offensive, and I've never heard anyone use "meinu". I guess prostitution has become so widespread in China that the former term has become degraded there.
I use "mei mei" often enough, but that's just because I am OLD and talk with an older crowd.
@Hmph - "Xiao peng you"??? What? Are you just a 15-year-old kid?Source(s): WNL
- Anonymous8 years ago
Test-tube baby Charlotte Holmes as the UK's Miss World representative has been drawing attention to the 2012 Miss World contest. Over a hundred young ladies will compete for the crown in Ordos, China, all of them between eighteen to twenty-five years old – hence the term "Miss."
Times are a-changin', and terms of address like "Sir" and "Ma'am" are now falling by the wayside, and considered old-fashioned. Somehow, though, "Miss" has survived and can still be heard in most English speaking countries when addressing a young woman. In China, however, the word "小姐 (xiǎojiě) Miss" is controversial. Many expats in China will walk away dumbfounded after their first experience of hearing a waitress or female friend angrily say, "Don't call me Xiaojie!"
The problem lies in China's size. Different regions have very different slang, and in many parts of China (although not all), "Xiaojie" has taken on a negative and even seedy meaning. Nowadays it is usually used in bars and pubs rather than in daily life. If you have to use "Xiaojie," always try to use the woman's last name as well; for example, 李小姐 (Lǐ xiǎojiě) Miss Li. An even better option is to use "美女 (měinǚ) beauty/beautiful" to address a young woman. This term might sound odd to foreigners' ears, but girls in China will happily accept it as flattery. At official occasions, you can use the word "女士 (nǚshì) Ms./lady."
So even though the word "小姐 (xiǎojiě) Miss" is used by many native speakers, until you have a good grasp of the slang in your region, remember the old saying: better safe than sorry.
Learn more examples at
Any more questions related to Chinese learning, feel free to drop me a
line at firstname.lastname@example.org or visitSource(s): echineselearning
- How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
- Miao TsetungLv 68 years ago
In Taiwan, you can probably use "Xiaojie" anytime. While flying on China Airlines (a Taiwan airline) several times I often heard that salutation used on female flight attendants.
In the Mainland, you can sitll use it, but not in hotels, restaurants, KTV bars, massage parlors or anywhere that you might reasonably expect to find prostitutes.
- Elena SLv 68 years ago
you can use 小姐
or the position (job), which is most preferable