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A Chinglish expression? This morning I did listen the expression "Chinese people" on BBC radio. But someone told this is an Chinglish expression. What's your idea about that?
Apr 10, 2018 2:22 AM
Comments · 5
In my opinion, “Chinese people” is correct English, and as natural an option as any available. As others have mentioned, in the plural, we can use the adjective as a plural noun. (It is generally possible in English to use an adjective without any plural suffix as a plural noun referring to people). Unfortunately, there isn’t a really good (substantive noun) demonym for people from China in the English language. We can say “an American” or “a Spaniard,” but the traditional demonym (“a Chinaman” — parallel to “a Dutchman” or “an Englishman”) sounds weird in modern English, possibly due to gender specificity (which has gone out of style in recent times). Technically,  “a Chinese” can be used as a singular noun, but it just doesn’t sound good in contemporary English, so the best solution in the singular would be to use “Chinese” as an adjective, followed by the most appropriate noun you can think of. I just teach English — I didn’t invent it :) 

April 11, 2018
It's much more usual to say "the Chinese" or "Chinese, but "Chinese people" is sometimes used by native English speakers, so it's not incorrect.
April 10, 2018

It is definitely OK to mean the Chinese people as a whole (as a nation): "The Chinese people have once again taken their rightful place among the most advanced nations".

On the other hand, I have heard it a lot as a 1:1 translation for 中国人: "Chinese people like to come here a lot, there are many American people in his team, ...", so I understand why somebody told you that was Chinglish :-D. Often, a different construction like "A lot of Chinese (tourists, travelers) like to come here" would sound more natural to me when talking about individuals.

Then again, "what do British people eat?" - sounds perfectly fine. "Chinese people like to eat rice, American people like to eat pizza" - sounds like Chinese English to me :-D. Wow, this is more complicated than I thought! Maybe it is the stereotypical overuse of "country + people" that makes me think that way (sometimes also giving rise to incorrect formations like e.g. "Germany people" for "German people").

Sorry for the many updates to this answer - as I was thinking about it I realized that it is a bit tricky: even for individuals "Chinese / Spanish / etc. + people" can be OK, but if you do it in every sentence then it has a certain Chinese ring to it, at least to my ears ;-).

April 11, 2018
It is a very common expression, like Spanish people, Japanese people, English people, etc. Saying something like The Chinese or The Mexicans can actually sound a bit negative depending on the context because it could be referring to a people and their government.
April 11, 2018

@Aurelio,

Thanks for your comments. I always keep in mind that I should not take so seriously about a certain expression in English. What I focus on is speaking naturally. For this topic, what I worry about is that my expression is not natural. I really recognize that some expressions are just fit for specific situation  which is not just about language itself, but also is about the people, the regions. For example, some expressions are accepted in the south of China, however those are not accepted in the north of China.

April 11, 2018
Lawrence
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
English