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Basic Information for Chinese Roleplay


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Preface:

 

By no means do I consider myself an expert on the matter of Chinese roleplay, I've just spent some time doing it and want to share my knowledge. Originally I wrote out this stuff to post on our faction's discord for people to check out but I figured I might as well post it here too (certain texts have been altered for this version). This guide should give you the basics to roleplay a Chinese character, especially for those of you who are interested in joining our Chinese community based in Textile City. Chinese roleplay has some serious depth to it if you're willing to take the plunge. Characters can vary significantly due to their/their family's geographic origin, affecting the language/s they speak, the food they make, to generalize, their culture and lifestyle as a whole. I'll add that Shah of Persia has an extremely well written in-depth guide on the matter of Chinese roleplay and I highly recommend checking it out, that is once the old forums are visible again (as of writing this thread its still hidden).

 

 

 

Geography, Language and Culture

 

The People's Republic of China administers 34 provincial-level divisions or first-level divisions, including 22 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities, and 2 special administrative regions and 1 claimed province.

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China is big, so big it's divided up into pieces, and those pieces are divided into smaller pieces which are divided into smaller pieces and so on. Different regions in China have different cultures, and more importantly, languages. When speaking about the language, the term "Chinese" is an extreme generalization since it's actually divided to various languages that for the most part are not mutually intelligible, though they do share the same writing system/s (traditional or simplified Chinese characters, aka Hanzi). Among these languages are Standard Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Wu, Gan and some others.

 

The geographical origin of your character's family is important here because it will affect the first thing you decide when creating a character, said character's name. Because of there being different languages between regions, pronunciation may vary greatly and while the writing system for all the languages is the same, the sounds the characters make are completely different, and by extension how they are written in English. An example of this is the Mandarin name Wang, an extremely popular name among Chinese people. In Cantonese the name is written and pronounced Wong and in Wu Chinese it can be Waon or Whang. Wherever you choose your character's family to have originated from should impact the way their last name is spelled and the Chinese dialect they speak. Have fun with it, research regional culture and customs to represent in your character and achieve it's full potential.

 

You can find a Wikipedia article containing a chart with Chinese surnames and their romanizations according to language here.

 

 

 

Mandarin as a bridge language

Due to the various languages spoken throughout the Chinatown environment a bridge language is required (a language or dialect systematically used to make communication possible between groups of people who do not share a native language or dialect), usually in addition to their original regional language, unless the bridge language is their regional language.

 

In our community we will be using Standard Mandarin as a bridge language, meaning that if you roleplay a character originating from our community it is optional for him to speak Standard Mandarin in addition to whatever dialect native to his geographic origin. If your character originated from elsewhere in the city, country or otherwise, and only recently moved into or around the Chinatown it is entirely possible they will not speak Standard Mandarin unless as previously mentioned, their geographical origin would make it logically so.

 

This does not mean other languages will not be spoken throughout the community, rather we highly encourage people to create varied characters, not necessarily even Chinese. Roleplaying a non-Chinese Asian character in the Chinatown community is totally fine.  The use of this bridge language is simply to permit the majority of characters in our community to communicate on a comprehensive level. In fact, no one said your character has to be good at the bridge language, neither do they have to speak it at all for that matter if you choose to do so.

 

The choice is yours.

 

 

 

Face

Interesting as the Chinese physiological face is, the psychological face makes a still more fascinating study. It is not a face that can be washed or shaved, but a face that can be "granted" and "lost" and "fought for" and "presented as a gift". Here we arrive at the most curious point of Chinese social psychology. Abstract and intangible, it is yet the most delicate standard by which Chinese social intercourse is regulated.

 

Simply put, face is a concept within Chinese society that can be translated as honor, respect or social standing. This is actually a widespread concept throughout Asia and other parts of the world and can even be seen in how most street gangs operate socially. This is especially relevant in a Chinatown setting where as much effort as possible is put in to ensure the continuation and preservation of Chinese culture against the surrounding Western culture/s that attempt to influence these communities. At it's core, face is how people perceive you. To lose face is to be seen as less, to gain face is to be seen as more, and to save face means you have managed to maintain your status despite some sort of incident that could have cost you face.

 

Actions have consequences, and people will look at you with disdain if you are a stain on their society, however they may also think highly of you if you are an upstanding member of the community.

 

 

 

On the subject of Snakeheads, Triads and Tongs

(This is a very brief explanation of each term so you may be acquainted with it, recommended to research on your own if it interests you)

 

Snakeheads are individuals involved in human trafficking and smuggling. If you need to get into America illegally from China, you get in contact with a Snakehead who will get you in, for a price.

 

Triads are illegal organizations, usually secret societies originating in China. Triads do not exist within the United States of America. A Triad may however have operations that extend to America or groups operating under them within that territory.

 

Tongs are benevolent organizations founded within Chinatowns that serve as community centers of sorts. Originally they were founded to support local migrants with work, housing and education, but also operated gambling dens and became tied to illegal operations operating out of those same Chinatowns. The word "Tong" is Cantonese for the word "hall", a gathering place.

 

 

 

Afterword

Hopefully this guide has given you the basic tools to create a Chinese character or taught you something new. Questions will be answered, criticism is welcome, pointed out mistakes will be fixed and if you've got another section you'd like to see added, pitch it, I'll see if I can write something. Thanks for reading.

 

-m.p.C.C

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Go meh gwai ying mana, ban tsai yeh. Wun nay lay Tai Hing tun bing tun lai cha, dam daka?

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