Why "Comrade, let's drink!" can take you to new places

We just got a new phrase in class that I thought was pretty amusing. Apparently in extremely polite situations where you don't know someone's name, you can say 'Hello comrade' 您好同志 - nín hăo tóng zhì.

I'm sure this is a throwback phrase and I immediately started wondering if I could start using it or if it would be perceived the wrong way. My teacher then informed me of some slang that is associated with this term.

You see, tóng usually means the 'same' or 'similar' and - zhì can mean 'inspiration', which when combined is why it means comrade since they have the same inspiration. But incidentally this can also be used to refer to someone as 'gay' because they are 'inspired' by the same sex.

It sounds like context is usually how you tell the different meaning. If someone is saying hello comrade, don't be offended. But if they point at you and hear something like ..."一个同志" then they may have found your recent web searches.

Incidentally the other example given of how it can be used is for describing a certain type of bar, 酒吧 - jiŭ bā - bar. -jiŭ is alcohol and in this context means small space (no giggling) but it also sounds like ba the suggestion particle ~ sounds like 'let's drink'.

So if you say, 同志酒吧 tóng zhì jiŭ bā - Comrade, let's drink! - you had better be ready to dance because you're going somewhere special.

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Comment by thomasgatley on July 20, 2011 at 12:49pm
Just a quick fact-check - not everyone in China is a member of the CCP, probably only about 80 million.
Comment by Chinese-Q on July 7, 2011 at 5:33pm

同志 or 同志们 this is the word used in China revolution period , nowadays we sometimes use it  casually for fun, "XX 同志,time for eat apple"sometimes in office with very friendly work enverience, we also say:"同志们,meeting time soon"

同志酒吧 , I will think this is gay bar for sure...ask other Chinese...

if someone say: 同志们,去酒吧拉...means Comrade, let's drink!


Comment by Ranjan Roy on July 6, 2011 at 9:04am
Probably my favorite mandarin double entendre to date
Comment by Jun Santa on July 6, 2011 at 8:49am
Comment by Martha on January 29, 2011 at 5:59am

I think, the way in China to say hello to smeone you don't know : 你好同志 is from (Communist Party) comrades. Everyone is the member of Communist Party.

Comment by Niel de la Rouviere on January 21, 2011 at 7:50pm
Haha. Oh wow. That is brilliant!

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