Thursday, December 9, 2010

Age differences and Chinese honorifics explained!

So I think I may have written another post explaining the culture of Ingenuo to clarify the relationship between Jiayu and Yung Jo. I would just like to note that she STILL calls him "big brother," even after they have had sex.

I would like to discuss what Yung Jo calls Jiayu's mom. So most people might call their significant other's mom by their first name, or perhaps by Mrs. ____, or even "mom." However, Yung Jo calls Ms. Zhang, "Zhang Jie," which means Older Sister Zhang. Now why is this?

"Jie" is a term referring to an older sister, though it is used with people who aren't necessarily your family either. Any older girl can be called a sister. A young lady on the street would be called "xiao jie," or "little older sister," literally. It refers to a young lady, which is sometimes flattering to refer to 30+ years women as "jie," especially if you are my tender teenage age. "Jie" should be used for any girl older than you are, up to 15 years older than you probably. Any older than that, "Aunt" is probably better, but it does depend on the situation.

So why does Yung Jo call Ms. Zhang, "Older sister"? Let's assume Ms. Zhang had Jiayu when she was 25. This means that she is 13 years older him, which makes "older sister" appropriate. I think that by using this honorific, not only is this culturally correct, but Ryan also emphasizes the age difference between Jiayu and her lover, it is so great that Jiayu's mom is like a "sister" to Yung Jo.

I know there was a forum post about the age difference, so I am curious to know what you guys think. Let me know below! Also, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!


  1. Thanks for the explanation.
    I did read that a lot of people find their age difference a problem, but I don't mind at all. Decades, centuries ago, it was common for older men to marry women/girls a lot younger than themselves... Anyway, Love is not about numbers; it's about how well the 2 persons fit with each other. As long as the younger one is mature enough to understand his/her own feelings, I think it's ok.
    Can't wait for the next chapter ^_^
    BTW, I'm surprised at how late The One next chapter is...I check the chinese forum everyday...sigh...

  2. Yeah, me too! Argh, I think there is a problem with the scanner, because it was a different scanner for the last two chapters, so that's why it was lower quality. I check everyday too!

    I also agree with your statement above :)

  3. Personally, 12 years is quite a big gap. I'd have preferred if the age gap is 10 years or below. It would have been better if the story had started when she was 18, and he, 26. After all, caucasian guys would have 'scored' much earlier, compared to asians. So, he would still be very worldly compared to her.