What is a friend? A friend is someone you know, enjoy hanging out with and share a lot of things in common. Interestingly, a “péngyou” (friend) in Chinese culture could be anyone you meet on the street!
If you are bargaining with a vendor, the vendor could possibly say “Come on péngyou, it is the lowest price!” If you walk through the overpass, you may find someone call you “Hello péngyou, want to buy some antiques?” I guess sometimes, foreigners get confused or surprised on such intimacy to be called as a “friend” by a stranger.
Chinese people in general, tend to be friendly most of the time and that can be traced both in their language and in their culture. It is part of Chinese culture for people to want to be closer with anyone they just met. In fact the word ‘friend’ is commonly used. They call little children as “xiǎo péngyǒu”, and they address almost everyone as péngyou. Next time you say ‘thank you’, say “xièxie nǐ, péngyou” or goodbye - “zàijiàn, péngyou”. Keep in mind though that these are said in informal occasions.
Sometimes, the second syllable on péngyou is coined with other words such as: “fànyǒu” which means you often go dining with the same person; “cháyǒu” is your tea-buddy; and “lǘyǒu” which means you travel with a group of friends.
It is also used as an idiom “suìhánsānyǒu” which means "three friends of winter”. This indicates three durable plants of winter -- pine, bamboo and plum blossom that implies a man of noble character. You can see these three plants in many Chinese paintings or ornament decorations.
I know you do also have some interesting discoveries on Chinese culture and funny anecdotes during your stay in China. We would love to hear your stories too! Let us know about it by simply posting it here.
Note: Some photos are from Internet.
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