Gratitude and Indigenous People

In Chinese by Gwilym James

Let’s learn how to express our gratitude and address indigenous people appropriately around the world in today’s mini-lesson.

Terms of Gratitude

The most common way to express thankfulness, of course, is with 谢谢. For example, 太谢谢你了!Thank you so much!

There are a couple of other words we use to express gratitude. Here, we use 感 which means “to feel; to sense”. Both characters are used to emphasize and show sincere gratitude and emotions. 感谢 gǎn xiè = to be thankful (verb), gratitude (noun).

To Be Thankful For: 对…感谢

Tā nàme zhàogù wǒ, wǒ duì tā zhēnde fēicháng gǎnxiè.
She’s taking care of me so well; I’m extremely grateful for her.

感恩 gǎn’ēn to be thankful.
This word is used for Thanksgiving: 感恩节 gǎn’ēn jié)

Tā de háizi hěn dǒngshì, dǒngdé gǎn’ēn.
Her child is sensible and knows how to appreciate things.

Terms for Indigenous People

Since we are writing this post in the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s acknowledge indigenous people by learning how to address them appropriately.

原住民 yuán zhù mín = native people

Specifically, we can attach a country or a region in front of 原住民. For example 美国原住民 “Native Americans”

In North America, indigenous people are sometimes referred to as The First Nations, especially in Canada.

第一民族 dì yī mínzú = The First Nations

zú can be attached to native tribes and racial groups.
1) Navajo 族 in Southwest America.
2) 回族 The Hui people in China (most are Chinese Muslim)

Cultural Note:
In Mandarin, the term 印第安人 yìndì’ān rén “the Indians” is often used in discussions of North American Indigenous people. But due to the offensive and outdated nature of its English counterpart, we don’t encourage using this term at all. There are several other terms used to address indigenous people, but many of them have derogatory connotations and we think 原住民 is the most neutral term. Language has everything to do with narrative and we need to start using objective and neutral words to address indigenous people.

Being Grateful Makes you Happy

Research in the field of psychology has found that showing gratitude is strongly associated with more happiness. Don’t forget to express appreciation to your loved ones and the world!

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