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I have heard my doctor refer to his employees on some occasion using the phrase hen ben (I assume he meant 很笨). When I first heard it I was a bit bothered. Should I be upset when this term is used or is this "light teasing"?

I've tried to evaluate this snippet a bit via research and came up with this discussion on Yahoo Answers. A wider variation appears on CantoDict (Cantonese/Mandarin). I guess there are varying degrees of insults and I'm simply curious to what extent this colloquialism applies.

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Wait. You should paste the whole sentence here to provide the context. "ji shi hen ma fan, wo bu yao shi hen ben" 即使很麻烦, (我不要) ...? I'm not definitely sure hen ben here is "很笨". Maybe it is just 即使很麻烦,我不要试很笨 (的方法)? Please show us where you originally saw the sentence. – Stan May 22 '14 at 16:21
@Stan Sorry for the confusion. This was part of a conversation I overheard where a Dr refers to his staff ...hen ben. As such I only caught the partial phrase related above. The links and references are things I found while researching the origin of the phrase. – Tommie C. May 22 '14 at 18:57
I think this depend really on the context, even on the region (dialect). – LUXun May 22 '14 at 19:54
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You should be upset.

I'd be upset if my employer said I was "很笨".

很笨 pretty much means what you would think it means "very stupid". Teasing on the other hand would be something more along the lines of 傻瓜, etc — and depending on the tone you should be able to tell teasing from non-teasing.

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I would say it depends on contexts. "很笨" could be just a mild upset or a teasing that doesn't matter at all. For example, a father could call his kids "很笨" when the kids made mistakes by not following his instructions or advice from a supervising perspective. So is it in the doctor case.

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