communication barrierOrdering ball-jointed dolls direct from sellers in China leaves us all scratching our heads from time to time. We know they use a translator to understand some of our messages, and we use translators to make sure what we’re saying makes sense. Tinker Jet has written the following article to help us with the communication barrier. We tell people all the time to be short and specific. Leave off the extra words that is common in the English language. Here, Tinker Jet explains why, and how best to do it.

Written by Tinker Jet, shared with permission

Okay, so I think it’s fair to assume that everyone in this group likes dolls and even if you don’t have a doll, chances are you will want to speak to someone about a doll you want (regardless of whether or not it’s a recast)… but then comes the massive language barrier.

Suddenly, you feel guilty. You don’t want to talk to someone from across the world like they’re stupid. You want to sound professional yet friendly. You want to know what you’re talking about and be very specific.

Well, you can stop feeling guilty right now! You speak English. They speak Chinese. There is a massive language gap, and sometimes, the only thing that can bridge the gap is an online translator, but there are still problems that come with so I’ve decided to shed some light on how to communicate with someone who speaks Chinese. While I am by no means fluent, I can at the very least try to illustrate some core differences between the languages that will help you to better understand how to translate.


China’s only had its borders open to tourism for about thirty years. The majority of the country’s population still DOES NOT speak English, nor do they have any interest in learning the language. The business centres in China are (generally) Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. English speakers in China are few and far in between everywhere else. While English IS being implemented into their school curriculum, you may need to trudge along just a little bit longer before you can expect perfect communication and understanding.

Now listen up:

I’m not going to lie to you. The majority of the English language DOES NOT TRANSLATE.

“Well, what do you mean? The translator is right there. Of course it translates!”

No, it doesn’t. Get everything you know about English out of your head right now!

The majority of the English language is FLUFF that will not be understood by any Chinese person who reads it.

“But why?”

Chinese DOES NOT HAVE conjugation or tenses, and spoken Chinese does not differentiate between male and female. (Early apologies to anyone who may have a background in any Latin-based language. Your knowledge of said language will be no good to you here.)

“But what do you mean?”

I’ll show you.


Words in Chinese DO NOT CHANGE. Run does not become “running” or “ran” and sit does not become “sitting” or “sat”. It is simply, “You sit before”, “You sit later”, “You sit now”. There is NO special treatment for when something occurs. That alone makes communicating difficult when you want to talk about anything that involves a time stamp (did, drank, sat, ran, ate, forgot, shot, played, stomped, etc) or just about anything with “ing” on the end. So if your responses to (insert Chinese person here) include “ed” and “ing” at the end of any of your words, you’re probably doing it wrong. Revise.

Also, beware if there is an “s” on the end of any of your words. Chinese DOES NOT HAVE a plural system. To emphasize this point, go to Google Translate right now. Type in “dolls”, copy, and paste what Google gives you in the box to translate it back to English. The word is “doll”, NOT “dolls”. While the “s” may not pose a problem to people who say they want “five dolls”, I just want you to be aware that when Chinese people are reading what you want, they will only read the words “five” and “doll”. They will NOT see “dolls” in the plural on its own. If you accidentally forget a number, they will assume that you only want (or are referring to) ONE.


While the English sentence structure feels so normal to us, there are so many words that just fluff out our sentences to make them long and unnecessary. Chinese is direct and to the point.

For example:

1. “You are beautiful.” In Chinese, it is ” 你 漂 亮 ” (“Ni piao liang.”) It literally translates to, “You beautiful.” “Are” is just fluff.

2. “Are you okay?” In Chinese, it is ” 你 好 吗 ” (“Ni hao ma?”) It literally translates to, “You good?” (“Ma” is essentially a question mark. Similar to “ka” or ” か ” in Japanese.)

3. “Have you eaten?” In Chinese, it is ” 你 吃 了 吗 ” (“Ni chi le ma?”) It literally translates to “You eat before?” (” 了 ” or “le” is being used as both a verbal and written past tense marker since the language does not conjugate.)

Note: Just for the record, many foreigners are taught “Are you okay?” as a common follow-up to a greeting in China since it’s similar to “How are you?” However, it is common courtesy to greet someone then ask if they’ve eaten since it’s considered polite to feed your guests. You don’t HAVE to feed your guests even if you ask the question. No one will hate you if you’re not within walking distance of your kitchen or if you don’t have money to dish out on a restaurant. Still, it’s good to know that if you visit someone’s house/apartment, they may ask you if you’ve eaten then proceed to feed you. It is part of their custom and greeting, and if you’re home, you’re allowed to feed your guests as well.

4. “I want a doll.” In Chinese, it is ” 我 要 娃 娃 ” (“Wo yao wawa.”) It literally translates to, “I want doll.”

Note: You can use ” 我 要 (insert doll name and very simple description here)” any time you’d like if it would help make your communications easier.

5. “Do you have a doll?” In Chinese, it is ” 你 有 娃 娃 吗? ” (“Ni you wawa ma?”) It literally translates to, “You have doll?”

Note: You can use “你 有 (insert doll name here) 吗 ?” any time you’d like also. Just remember that in any question, more often than not, it will go as follows: “(Noun/Pronoun) (Verb/Adjective) ma?” If there are any formal Chinese speakers lurking around, please feel free to correct me on this one but this has generally been my experience with the language.

People can give more examples as they think of them.

Still, my point remains. Chinese doesn’t have a lot of what English does because it doesn’t mince words. Period. You want something, say “I want blah.” You’re not insulting their intelligence. You’re catering to their language set-up, making yourself easier to understand. If they express interest in wanting to learn English then by all means, type properly and let them practice but otherwise, keep it as simple as humanly possible.

Being straight forward:

If you’re sending an e-mail with multiple questions and would like each answered, open your e-mail with ” 我 有 (insert number of questions here) 问 题 ” then number your questions as you ask them. You’ll get a far better response.

Numbers in Chinese (for those who want them):
One: 一 (yi, pronounced like “yee”)
Two: 二 (er, pronounced like the English word “are”)
Three: 三 (san)
Four: 四 (si, pronounced like “suh”)
Five: 五 (wu, pronounced like “woo”)
Six: 六 (liu, pronounced like the zodiac sign “leo”)
Seven: 七 (qi, pronounced like the “chee” in “cheese”)
Eight: 八 (ba, pronounced like “bah”)
Nine: 九 (jiu, pronounced similarly to “leo”, except with a j.)
Ten: 十 (shi, pronounced like if you tried to say “she” and “shoe” at the same time)

For anyone who wants to go beyond ten, just add or multiply respectively:

Eleven: 10 + 1 = 十一
Twelve: 10 + 2 = 十二
(Add any number between 1 and 9 to 10 to make a new number all the way to 19.)

Twenty: 2 x 10 = 二十
Twenty-one: 2 x 10 + 1 = 二十一

Thirty: 3 x 10 = 三十
Thirty-one: 3 x 10 + 1 = 三十一
(For any number beyond 20, you pick a number between 2 and 9 then multiply it by 10 and add any number between 1 and 9 if you need it. This applies all the way to 99 or 九十九.)

Congratulations. You have just learned how to count in Chinese.

Still in doubt?

Don’t forget that a picture is worth a thousand words!

I hope you’ve all found this guide useful. If anyone has questions, you may feel free to ask. I will answer what I can.

Happy shopping!

EXTRAS (Not necessary for online communication but fun to share nonetheless):


For those of you who speak a Latin-based language (Spanish, French, Italian, etc), you’ll know that there are times when objects are given genders. You may rest easy knowing that spoken Chinese does NOT distinguish gender. If you ever find yourself speaking to a Chinese person, they use very simple, easy-to-remember pronouns.

“I” or “me”: ” 我 ” (“Wo”, pronounced like the exclamation “whoa”)

“We”: ” 我 们 ” (“Women”, combine the sounds “whoa” and “mun”. “Mun” sounds like the first three letters of “money”.)

“You”: ” 你 ” (“Ni”, pronounced like where your leg bends at the “knee”)

“You (plural)”: ” 你 们 ” (“Nimen”… “Knee” and “mun”.)

“He” or “him”: ” 他 ” (“Ta”, pronounced like “tah”)

“She” or “her”: ” 她 ” (It may look different but it’s also pronounced “tah”)

“It”: ” 它 ” (Again, it may look different on the computer screen but it’s also pronounced “tah”)

“They” or “them”: ” 他 们 ” (“Tamen”…)

Recast BJD – Legal or Illegal

March 1, 2013 14:41 pm · 1 comment

by ResinMuse

The past few days has been drama filled for me.  We’ve kept relatively quiet about it, but I’d like to address some things we’ve come across.

Periodically, one or more people are targeted regarding Recast and the legalities surrounding resin ball-jointed dolls.

The truth is.. When I read the legal documents, I get lost.   So it’s easy for me to feel confused on what the deal really is…

Last weekend there was, I thought, a great debate on the legalities of Recast. And one thing in particular caught my eye.  This is from a woman who was on the “anti” side of recast:

“US copyright law is incredibly complex and most people who are not lawyers do NOT understand it. In fact, what I know about it I have from several lawyers (via work) and even they do not claim to know all of the potential wrinkles.” (quoted as was written)

((Her point was for the person arguing ‘for’ recast to be careful about saying they are Legal.. I think her point also applies to the anti- side of the argument too.))

Knowing this, and knowing that bjd are a unique item that could potentially fall under a many different categories (toy, collectible, sculpture, art, ??), yet not quite fitting any one of them. I think it’s safe to say at this point in time, there are no specific laws against owning recast bjd.

In the past, I have bounced around the legalities of it because it is such a confusing area.  But what I Am confident in saying is those who say with certainty ‘recast bjd are illegal’, aren’t lawyers and don’t really know much more than what we do – they can’t claim to know the laws, when even lawyers would be unsure. As a matter of fact, should an owner of dolls need to go to court, lawyers on either side would do just as were are – argue the points in the favor of their side.. and then a Judge would have the ultimate say..

Anti-recast people read the laws and fit it how it best suits them.  Which, of course, we pro- do the same. But one difference I note, is we are not going to them and trying to force them to hear our side of it. They seek us out, to tell us we’re breaking the law, we’re unethical, immoral, and more.  Reality is, it’s not all black and white or clear cut as they say or would like to believe. Their continued behavior of coming to us (this is a wide reference, from myself and the groups I help run to individuals who have been ‘attacked’) to make comments about our morals and ethics, and absolute insistence that recasts are illegal, border on harassment or bullying (but that will be another topic).

Something to really keep in mind~
We’ve been reported to both flickr and facebook for recast dolls. We’re still there.

That said, when someone comes to your site, page, communities and starts telling you how it is illegal and immoral, you can ask them to leave, or you can ignore them (no trolls welcome – the term “griefer” seems applicable too, even though we aren’t playing an mmo) and if it’s on a community like Facebook, you can ban them or report them if they don’t respect your wishes (think about what they would do, if one (or more) of us went to their forum and started trouble. We’d end up banned – so we’re not being unreasonable asking them to stay away.

If you have your own blog, you can send their message to spam and if they continue you can even block their ip address altogether.  Point is, just because *they* tell you it’s illegal does not make it so. There are communities where you will find support in numbers.

Not that it is anyone’s business, but I have never received any compensation, not from the recasters and not from any of the members of our group, or anyone else I’ve helped.  I do the things I do because I want to.  I help when I can.  I have received one free doll, and that is the CD cat I am giving away Free on our Facebook page.  It should also be noted that the recasters periodically give others free stuff, for different reasons or for no reason.

On using social networks.
This should go without saying, but as some people might not really understand how places like facebook work, I’d like to point out that when you use social avenues, such as Facebook, using a name to address someone is called “tagging”..

When you ‘tag’ someone, it sends a ‘notification’ to let them know there is a post for them to read.  This is something Facebook created for the convenience of it’s members.  It’s accepted and usually regarded as a good thing, as it ensures the intended party will read the message.

This is different than posting a screen capture and not blacking out last names..  This is actually against Facebook TOS and most other social areas of the web. So, if you are addressed by name by tagging you on facebook, it’s to be polite, afterall, it’s only tagging the name you, yourself use on facebook.  However, if I post a picture from your forum and do not black out your last names, and then post it on facebook, that would be against FB TOS and can be reported and FB will have it removed.  Make sense?  One is acceptable, the other is not.

To bring this to a close, I came across this quote in an article today, completely unrelated to dolls, and I felt it so fitting to our recast dolls.  (look how are community has grown!)

“The more you talk about something, the more awareness and acceptance there is…”

Recast may never be accepted on mainstream doll groups, and that’s ok, because we’re seeing more and more groups, communities, blogs, and more for recast.  So if you have a community or blog for recast, be sure to let us know.

BJD isn’t the only hobby that has it’s ‘fakes’:

For More info on Counterfiet dolls, read this:—sculptor-is-usin-939350.html

And this:

For the latter link, I found this to be noteworthy:

“Counterfeit goods, they said, actually have copies of a brand’s label or signature symbols or marks that so closely resemble the original they appear identical  (think a Lacoste-looking design with the signature alligator). Knockoffs, on the other hand, don’t have such words or symbols and merely resemble the original.

When it comes to buying knockoffs without the label, buyers pretty much have nothing to worry about.

As to counterfeits, if you buy them for personal use, “almost everywhere in the world, it’s illegal to sell them but legal to buy them,” said Susan Scafidi, a professor at the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University and an academic director there.

“The law only apples to the supply side and not the demand side.” But, she said, there are two major places where buying counterfeit goods is illegal: France and Italy.”

Recast – again

October 25, 2012

There has been such an uproar on the recast group this week. An individual artist found out someone was *talking about* (not doing, but talking about) recasting her (the artists) doll. Now, this is not a new conversation.. it’s gets brought up often – about sending rare/hard to find dolls to the recasters… it doesn’t […]

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Facebook Recast BJD Haven

September 27, 2012

Haven’t found us yet on Facebook?  We’re there and we’re happy to have you join us.  Recast BJD Haven This morning I woke up to find that one of our members had been banned (thank you Monica!) for selling/trading a recast doll as legit.  We pride ourselves on having a friendly, welcoming community with people […]

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August 30, 2012

The largest bjd forum in the USA is Den of Angels. They set the rules for recast dolls and Recast has NO place on DoA. At all. DoA is a huge resource for pictures, comparison, tutorials, help and for some, just community games and photo stories. This is not a resource you want to lose. […]

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