Àirén is one of those words you have to be a little
careful about, as it has different meanings in different
Chinese dialects. If you introduce a
female acquaintance as your
in stodgy Beijing, she is your legally
married wife. If you make your way to Taiwan
and introduce her again, people will think she is
your lover, more specifically a mistress.
This is also the Japanese meaning for the same
characters, although the pronunciation becomes
And trust me: no matter how much you love them, you
do not want to introduce your children
as your àirén.