Sunday, September 19, 2010
Baba, mama, didi he wo
The one international word in these pictures of course is "mama." I am sure you know what wonderful person that is. "Baba, mama, didi, he wo" is pinyin for "Dad, mom, little brother, and me." (Pinyin is the written-out version of Chinese, which helps a learner of the language know how to pronounce the words or look them up in the dictionary.) So Thomas is Simon's "didi" (little brother), and Simon is Thomas' "gege". And if your sibling is a girl, you either have a "jiejie" (older sister) or "meimei" (younger sister). Luckily, if you don't know if anyone has any sisters or brothers, you can ask in one quick swoop if they have any "xiongdijiemei", ("xiong" here is for "gege") so as not to waste any precious time.
Of course, if you are Chinese and under 30, changes are pretty slim that you actually have a brother or sister at all. Exactly 30 years ago the Chinese one-child policy came into effect, so most young Chinese you meet are a single child. (There were exceptions to the rule, so it won't be true across the board). There's much speculation and discussion on what the impact of this policy already is and will be for the Chinese society. People talk about the little empresses and emperors, the single children who apparently have had too much attention from their family, and may end up a bit... uh... selfish and spoiled, or... stressed-out, because of the huge pressure on them to take care of all their grandparents all by themselves.
If you are interested in the topic, you might want to check out the this current series on the American public radio show Market Place about the policy. The site includes some interesting graphs and stories.
Luckily, my two little emperors are already off to bed, and the queen mother has a fine Sunday evening to herself! Good day!