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Family Names

Chinese family names came into being during the clan society some 5,000 years ago. There are more than 5,000 family names altogether, but only 300 or so are common. Zhang, Wang, Li, Zhao and Liu are most populous names. The name of a person generally consists of two or three Chinese characters, and the family name always comes before the given name. For example, the family name of a person called Zhang Siying is Zhang. Chinese forms of address are more or less the same as the Western. A man is addressed as xiansheng, or mister - such as Mister Li. An unmarried woman is addressed as xiaojie, or miss. A married woman retains her maiden name and she may be addressed as either Miss or Mrs. What's-Her-Name.


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