"Maria" The domestic female worker

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"Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby Dangergyrl » 01 May 2012, 22:05

Has anybody else noticed this recently? A lot of my adult students and now even the kids are using this term. Or name if you wish. "Maria" . If the girl is from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesian or wherever in SE Asia local people are using this to describe domestic helpers. It seems to be popular now.

Actual quotes

Her "Maria" was looking for the dog.
My family hired a new "Maria" but she is pretty.
The "Marias" take the grandfathers to Da'an Park.
The other "Maria" told her to run away.

It kind of irks me. Like my redneck uncle calling every black guy with a blue collar job Tyrone or every other Asian person Jackie Chan or Sue Wong or etc. I have not said much in class but it rubs me the wrong way.
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby Indiana » 01 May 2012, 22:11

Dangergyrl wrote:Has anybody else noticed this recently? A lot of my adult students and now even the kids are using this term. Or name if you wish. "Maria" . If the girl is from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesian or wherever in SE Asia local people are using this to describe domestic helpers. It seems to be popular now.

Actual quotes

Her "Maria" was looking for the dog.
My family hired a new "Maria" but she is pretty.
The "Marias" take the grandfathers to Da'an Park.
The other "Maria" told her to run away.

It kind of irks me. Like my redneck uncle calling every black guy with a blue collar job Tyrone or every other Asian person Jackie Chan or Sue Wong or etc. I have not said much in class but it rubs me the wrong way.


They have been doing that for years in Taiwan...they were using 'Maria' when I arrived in 2000. In fact, a lot of TW families call their maid 'Maria' even if it isn't her real name. They use it to substitute for maid / nanny / domestic helper. :eh:
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby Enigma » 02 May 2012, 02:25

Life sucks. Dirty Americans and now Dirty Taiwnese.
The gardner is Pedro, regardless of his name.
The nanny is Maria, regardless of her name.
The Driver is Hugo, regardless of his name.
The student is . . . . . regardless of her name.
Do you perpetuate?
Why do students seem to have a NEED to have a Western name?
What's wrong with their name? Ever ask? Ever try?
So many beutiful people with beutiful names and yet we go on asking and accepting Western Names as the norm.
Why wouldn't students accept a standard name for a station in life. Don't you?
JMHO
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby fh2000 » 02 May 2012, 11:22

In LA, all dish-washers, busboys, landscape workers, handy-man are called "Amigo" by Chinese.
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby tango42 » 02 May 2012, 11:45

The culture tends to use general somewhat standard terms in many situations for those above and below in status or situation no? And they use the terms as a form of familiarity and friendliness and sometimes makes the person addressed feel happy. I can only recall a few, but I hear different ones in different situations even when talking to strangers.

Maid is Maria.
Older man might be da ge.
Older woman might be da jia.
Mei mei, etc.
Laoban, etc.

So is "Maria" really considered a negative term by those using it? Or one of these general terms used for familiarity?
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby Halo » 02 May 2012, 16:20

Hmmm I didn't know it had been around since 2000 or so. They could just say the maid or the girl I guess. In the USA I find when people do it they seem to think using a sterotypical name is OK, but they don't like using their brains either. I don't do it and I think in a place like Taiwan they just say it and don't care. Maybe this is true in the USA and elsewhere. But my mother would never allow my family to use terms like "Maria." so I do not. I'm on the fence though, there are worse problems.

My question is I wonder how domestic helpers in TW feel about it. :ponder:
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby dahsiung » 02 May 2012, 21:56

As an aside, this reminds me of my grandmother. She grew up in New England and all the neighborhood families would universally refer to Irish maids as "Bridgett." As in, "Oh, could you send your Bridgett over to help mop the floor?" or "My Bridgett really needs to learn to polish the silver better."

tango42 wrote:The culture tends to use general somewhat standard terms in many situations for those above and below in status or situation no? And they use the terms as a form of familiarity and friendliness and sometimes makes the person addressed feel happy. I can only recall a few, but I hear different ones in different situations even when talking to strangers.


I'd have to roundly disagree with this point, though. Though not many would take offense to being called "Da Ge" or "Da Jie" and yes it is a term of familiarity. However, I don't believe any maids (Filipina or otherwise) would enjoy being called Maria, especially if her name was Constance or Josephine or Betty.
tango42 wrote:So is "Maria" really considered a negative term by those using it? Or one of these general terms used for familiarity?


It's not the majority culture that gets to define whether or not a term applied to a minority is offensive. White people in America can't decide that it's okay to call Jeremy Lin a "chink" any more than Taiwanese people can decide that it's okay to call all maids "Mary" or all white people "Ah Dok a." It's offensive if the person being addressed feels offended.
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby touduke » 02 May 2012, 22:03

My question is I wonder how domestic helpers in TW feel about it. :ponder:


in tears.. they called me Maria again.. sniff..

my guess many of them don't mind, cause they have other hardship to deal with, like working 7/11, like having no own room, like not being able to leave the house alone, like getting abused, like having their lives depend on the good will of their 'owners', like not being able to have a boy/girlfriend/partner/spouse, like getting completely exploited and little money, like having no life.
But at least they are kicked out of the country once in a while so there's no danger they might end up staying permanently.
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby Lili » 02 May 2012, 22:06

Anyone try to figure out if there is a meaning in Chinese?

"Ma Li A"

Anyone?
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Re: "Maria" The domestic female worker

Postby Taffy » 02 May 2012, 22:48

Lili wrote:Anyone try to figure out if there is a meaning in Chinese?

There is none. It's from the Christian name Maria, reasonably common among Filipinas. Many Taiwanese are at least aware of the Virgin Mary too (mali'a).

By the way, the name "Ah-Huang" is often used on these boards in a similar generic fashion for a working class Taiwanese male.
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