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Views: 11311|Replies: 45

Top 5 Things NEVER to ask the Laowai   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2013-2-6 19:37:13 |Display all floors
Recently, in our Chinese Media section, we published an article called, May I Practice My English? which explains to Chinese people how to start up conversations with China’s foreigners, or laowai. The article includes many tactical points on what topics expats are interested in like weather, China, etc. While I don’t agree completely on the suggested topics, I feel what is missing from this article is a list of things NOT to do. These are simple cultural differences which, while no harm is meant, can be the difference between meeting a friend or having someone shrug you off. Therefore, here is my list of important points that Chinese people should NOT do if they want to make friends with random laowai.


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1. Do not ask if you can be friends. This kind of directness when applied to friendship with the laowai seems too much of an initial commitment and that kind of candor can scare the laowai away. Friendship to us is not something that you vocally agree on, but rather something that is earned.

2. Do not ask if you can practice your English. For laowai that have been in China a long time, this can simply make he or she feel used and they will simply say “No”. Remember, that laowai can make good money giving simple conversation classes where they do just that, so some will simply refuse to chat with you for free as odd as this sounds.

3. Do not ask about money. This is a big cultural no-no. In Western cultures, people feel quite uncomfortable when asked how much their salary is or how much they paid for something, unless they got it at a great price. Most Westerners believe a discrepancy in salary will hurt their friendships so they will refuse to answer this question. Asking will make him or her feel cornered.

4. Do not tell girls that they are beautiful when you first meet them. While this is truly flattering as a comment, it is considered a bit odd to most laowai girls who will get embarrassed and not know what to say. They can either say thank you, which makes them feel silly, or argue with you, which is also uncomfortable.


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5. Do not call or text too much. This is not a question but important nonetheless. Send a text only when you have something to say. Texting 20 times a day just to say hi can seem invasive for many Westerners. Usually, we text only to make plans or if we are sharing a story or news of the day.

Texts like “What’s up?” are used to see if the person is available to hang out usually. If the laowai replies, “not much, you?” do not reply, “nothing.” The laowai will become confused and have nothing to text back. If you follow up by texting the exact same thing an hour later they could even get annoyed.

Also, texts like “I see,” are conversation killers; there is no way to respond.

In addition, most people don’t feel comfortable with texts from people they don’t know that say,” I miss you.” I miss you is something that sometimes foreigners don’t even say to their friends at times, so it’s reserved for close friends and relatives. Saying it to someone we met once in a coffee shop is not commonplace.

Good luck! These simple tips will help clear up some cultural and language barriers between Laowais and Chinese people and help them make friends!


Source: eChinacities.com

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Post time 2013-2-7 06:45:05 |Display all floors
This post was edited by jiayangguizi8 at 2013-2-7 06:45

So, when Chinese people are in their own country, they should change their habits to please the spoiled laowai. Ridiculous.
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Post time 2013-2-7 13:45:55 |Display all floors
Why are they saying "foreigners"?  The article should be talking about how Chinese people should approach *English speakers*.  Not all foreigners speak English.

The first rule is to ask: "Excuse me, do you speak English?"  I am a foreigner, and while I obviously DO speak English (it's my native language), I met many fellow foreigners in China who spoke almost no English whatsoever, which required me to use either German or Chinese to converse with them.

And, really, many of us take offense at being called "laowai". We are people, just like the Chinese. We're not some animal called a "laowai".  Don't shout "Heh-loww" at people with white skin, it just makes you look dumb. I take great joy in ignoring Chinese people who rudely shout "Heh-loww" at me because I have white skin.

This does not require any Chinese person to change their habits or culture - in fact, we ask that you regard us and treat us as people in the same way you treat your own countrymen.
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Post time 2013-2-7 16:52:43 |Display all floors
These are generalizations, but reasonably accurate.  Foreigners are different and understanding differences is a good way to find similarities.  Finding similarities is how one advances to friendships that are real.  
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Post time 2013-2-7 18:33:05 |Display all floors
jiayangguizi8 Post time: 2013-2-7 06:45
So, when Chinese people are in their own country, they should change their habits to please the spoi ...

I personally think that the rules outlined in the O.P. do not apply to a social miscreant such as you even though you are badly in need of a teaching job.

I think you can spend the rest of your time with Chinese students wanting to "make friends with laowais and practise English"

You would take many of us hard-working laowais a heavy burden off our shoulders.

Good luck, and maybe someone will pay for your dinner.
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Post time 2013-2-7 18:34:21 |Display all floors
圆缘阁 Post time: 2013-2-7 13:45
Why are they saying "foreigners"?  The article should be talking about how Chinese people should app ...



Spot on!
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Post time 2013-2-7 18:38:13 |Display all floors
And here is something no Chinese evber thinks about: If you ask us our names, a polite way of asking is, "Do you mind I know your name?" or "May I know your name?"

I am used to being just "the laowai" or "the foreigner" but in all honesty, this is not an ideal situation conducive to repeated socialising. If we meet again I would appreciate it if you remembered my name.

And do not expect to be on first-name terms with every laowai. This is perhaps the biggest surprise for Chinese but in fact, we have first names and surnames just as you do, and you being a stranger should accept that I might wish to be addressed with an honorific (Mister) for example.

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