Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In Australia it is quite common to talk about Aboriginal people as they feature quite often when talking about sports, Olympics or politics.

The word that is used to describe Aboriginal people by native Chinese speakers is 土著人. I have had someone tell me (and I can't remember if it was a native Chinese person or not) that the word wasn't very flattering.

What does 土著 mean, why was it chosen to mean an Aboriginal person and does it have negative connotations?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Here are some definitions for "土著":

<现代汉语词典>(商务印书馆,1992年):"世代居住本地的人."

<辞源>(商务印书馆,2004年):(1)"世代定居于一地";(2)"后也称世代居住在本地的人为土著".

<辞海>(上海古籍出版社,1999年):(1)"古代游牧民族定居某地后,不再迁徙的称为‘土著";(2)"后指世居本地的人".

In classical Chinese, "土", when used as an adjective, means "local" or "original" (source):

<形>本地的;当地的。《柳敬亭传》:“且五方~音,乡俗好尚习见习闻。”

"著" has the meaning of "resident" or "stay" (source):

<动>居于;处在。

So basically, "土著" means the original residents of some area. It does not have negative connotations. We use this word in daily conversations when referring to aboriginal people. However, in written articles, people may sometimes use "原住民" alternatively.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Adding one point to nfang's answer. Though both 土著(人) and 原住民 in general mean original residents of any area, people tends to use 土著(人) for Australian and New Zealand aborigines; use 原住民 for Taiwanese aborigines; and use more specific names for other areas (e.g. 印第安人 for Native Americans).

share|improve this answer
    
I was going to as about Native Taiwanese, but you answered it. Thanks. –  Matthew Rudy 马泰 Sep 22 '12 at 1:45
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.