Word of the week: miāo xīng rén
In China cats and dogs are becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation. Particular breeds of cat or dog are like sort after luxury brands, and anyone who has been through the centre of Shanghai can see for themselves that there is a big market for luxury brands.
But cat lovers in China, like in many western countries, often see their pets as more than just “cats” (māo) or “kitty cats” (māo mī), they think of them as people.
In Chinese the word person/ people is rén, and you can put it after a place name to indicate a person from that place. A Chinese person is zhōng guó rén, literally “China person” and a “foreigner” is wài guó rén, which would be “outside country person.”
You can also say “outside planet person”, wài xīng rén, to mean someone from another planet or an alien. And what about you cat? Well, in the eyes of many cat owners they would me a miāo xīng rén; that is “person from the planet miao”
If you guess that Chinese dog fanatics call their loyal companions “people from the planet woof” then you would only be half right. In China dogs are thought of as making the sound “wang wang”, not “woof woof” and thus dogs are wāng xīng rén, “people from the planet wang”