326 Old

In most cultures around the world, people try to stay young, but thanks to the influence of Confucius, there is great respect for elders in China! Jonathan Dugdale, a researcher, and historian at the University of Birmingham, calls in to discuss the different Chinese words for “old” with ShaoLan. It’s important to know the difference because there is both a rude way and a respectful way to describe someone who is “old.”

On top of that, ShaoLan explains the word for “old” to describes objects, perhaps an old phone, or an old book, and the word for antiques or ancient archaeological artifacts, things that Jonathan researches. He even mentions that during the period he researches, the Liao dynasty, ancient objects from China were found in Western Europe and vice versa, evidence of trade going on over 1000 years ago.

The way to describe an old person in Chinese is 老人, or to be respectful is to say 長輩/长辈. The word for an old object is 舊/旧, while to describe ancient objects you say 古.

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Old person
lǎo rén
Old man
lǎo nán rén
Old woman
lǎo nǚ rén
長輩 / 长辈
zhǎng bèi
To age, to become old
lǎo huà
Aging population
rén kǒu lǎo huà
rén kǒu
Aging issues
人口老化問題 / 人口老化问题
rén kǒu lǎo huà wèn tí
Another word for "old"
舊 / 旧
Old mobile phone
舊手機 / 旧手机
jiù shǒu jī
Old book
舊書 / 旧书
jiù shū
Another word for "old"
Ancient times
gǔ dài
Old friend
lǎo péng yǒu

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