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I have found myself using the word 非中国人 to express what Chinese people would call 外国人 or 老外.

How do Chinese people feel about this word ?

Just to confirm I am using it with Chinese people.

Here are some examples of 非中国人 in place of 外国人 just to give you a feel for it in use.

住在北京的非中国人越来越多

会说中文的非中国人不是很少

你有非中国的朋友吗 ?

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  • 1
    Could you put it in a sentence? Or add a context? – dan Jul 27 '20 at 0:53
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    Those sentences are bit odd but grammatical. The oddity leads to a bit racism or segregation. It seems that you deliberately make it odd to isolate Chinese from non-Chinese. But that's probably just me. – dan Jul 27 '20 at 1:06
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    "are you Chinese" is English, which sounds a question about English. – dan Jul 27 '20 at 1:31
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    I feel this term is neutral and has a technical feel to it. Actually I personally quite like this term, but perhaps that's because I'm a nerd. :) – Betty Jul 27 '20 at 10:38
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    @Kantura Yes I am. – Betty Jul 28 '20 at 9:26
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In my opinion, 非中国人 sounds more exclusive. stresses 'are not' (they are not Chinese)

外国人 sounds more neutral. 外国 indicates 'where ones came from ( they are from outside of this country)'

  • 我族类(其心也异) is not a friendly phrase

  • 賓 is a welcoming term

To me, 非中国人 (non-Chinese) VS. 外国人 (foreigner) is like 非会员 (non-member) VS. 访客 (visitor/ guest)

老外 is an informal nickname for 外国人. Sounds casual and friendly.

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  • +1 for giving the example of 非我族类. I'm a native mainlander, 非中国人 gives me a sense of a nationalist undertone as it emphasises the 'NOT' part. To me, '住在北京的非中国人越来越多' gives a similar vibe to a statement like 'There is an increasing non-local population in the neighbourhood' – Scharlach Nachtfalter Jul 27 '20 at 2:45
  • Quote:- "In my opinion, 非中国人 sounds more exclusive", and also with a subtle undertone of "us and them"? – Wayne Cheah Jul 27 '20 at 3:50
  • @Wayne Cheah Yes." 中国人, 非中国人" does carry a subtle undertone of "us and them" – Tang Ho Jul 27 '20 at 4:07
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As a Chinese, I feel that this person ( who make this term:非中国人) is not Chinese.

外宾: very friendly.

老外: friendly

外国人: (中性词) not good, not bad.

非中国人: No Chinese would say like this.

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  • "洋人" is another way to call the foreigners, especially Western people. It's often not friendly, especially in "洋鬼子". It means the person who says it out think that foreigner is aggressor. – T-Pioneer Jul 27 '20 at 10:05
  • the term 洋人 mostly refers to the westerners – Tang Ho Jul 27 '20 at 10:31
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    the term 洋人 is dead, it's spoken by people 100 years ago. – Siwei Jul 27 '20 at 22:19
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    it is alive and well on TV. and movies – Tang Ho Jul 28 '20 at 11:01
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I've never heard of the term 非中国人 before. It sounds very unnatural.

It is syntactically and semantically correct, though. We just don't say that.

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In my opinion, 非中国人 is the same as 外国人.

非 is a very formal word for negative without any motion behinds.

So if you want to rationally argue in some topics, it's safe to use both 非中国人 and 外国人.


On the opposite, 不 is much more oral, it can be very motional.

Like 不是中国人 can means both neutral and negative: "You are not qualified to be a Chinese (shame on you)". This is more complicate and you have to judge with the contents or tone.

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