Chinese/Terms to use
QUESTION: Hello Sir William,
I'm writing a story with a friend. Two of our characters were once lovers. They ended their relationship on good terms, and to this day they are still good friends.
The girl is American and the man is Chinese.
Just wondering but what would be some term of endearment/affection they would use when addressing one another?
ANSWER: Hello, Stacy,
Thank you for the very interesting question.
When I was much younger, I had an Australian girl friend. We used to call each other "honey", "darling" or "dear" when we were together. We are on first-name basis nowadays.
Having said so, some (Chinese) ex-lovers would describe their ex(-lover or -spouse) "前度"(Pinyin: qian2 du4. Meaning: ex-, previous). I have seen the term "舊愛"(Pinyin: jiu4 ai4. Meaning: old love) in some novels. If nicknames were used (for example, piggy), I suppose there's no harm keep using them.
I hope you'll find the above information helpful. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me again.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you so much :)
Out of curiousity, now that you mention it, what are some chinese terms of endearment between couples? Like my special one, darling, honey, sweetheart, and such.
And would it be uncommon or inappropriate in Chinese culture to still refer to an old ex still as honey or sweety or similar when meeting with them?
Last, what would be a fond way to refer to a close friend? And a way to refer or address your colleagues?
Sorry for the many questions. We just want to make sure we don't misrepresent the Chinese culture.
Q.1 Chinese term of endearment examples (Pinyin in parentheses):
Lover = 愛人(ài rén)
Honey = 蜜糖兒(mì tang ér)
Babe 寶貝(bǎo bèi)
Darling = 打令(dá lìng)
Sweetheart = 甜心(tián xīn)
Steady B/F or G/F 意中人(yì zhōng rén)
N.B. One could call his/her lover anything (e.g. doggy, piggy, birdy, etc.), I suppose....
Q.2 It is NOT common in Chinese culture to call an ex darling, sweetheart, etc.
Q.3.1 Fond way to refer/address a close friend examples:
Pal = 老友(lǎo yǒu); 死黨(sǐ dǎng)
Bro = 兄弟(xiōng dì)
Q.3.2 Fond way to refer/address a colleague examples:
To a superior – Boss = 老總(lǎo zǒng); Head = 阿頭(ā;ē tóu).
To a peer – Senior(Male)= 師兄(shī xiōng); Senior(Female) = 師姐(shī jiě); Senior(unisex) = 前輩(qián bèi).
I would like to emphasize that the above terms are more commonly used in the southern part of China (including Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Taiwan); expressions in the other Chinese provinces can be quite different.
Thank you for your follow-up question.