Questions about the cultural side of China and Chinese.

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21
votes
6answers
1k views

How polite is too polite?

I've noticed in China that people don't tend to use as many 'polite' words as we do in western languages, like 'please' or 'thank you'. I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about this; I ...
14
votes
10answers
1k views

Are there word games in Chinese?

Do Chinese characters make it a lot harder to create or play word games in Chinese than it is in English? I have seen a few Chinese crosswords, but it seems like they aren't as densely cross-linked as ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do the names of some Chinese companies consist of “repeated” words?

I'm referring to the repetition of names such as "Dangdang" and "Renren." Why is this the case?
11
votes
4answers
2k views

How do I say “damn!” or “bloody hell” in Chinese?

The phrase 他妈的 has been explained in this question. Since I'm a no-expletives guy, I don't feel comfortable so close to the f-word. :) I was wondering what would be the correct way to use some of the ...
11
votes
2answers
814 views

How are blanks indicated for placeholders in Chinese (like ???)

In English, in the middle of a sentence if data is being left blank (such as an unknown date, or a name to be filled in at a later time), commonly you see ???, ___ (underscore(s)), or -- to mark this. ...
10
votes
3answers
249 views

When not to use 厕所 when asking for the toilet?

I've noticed sometimes in polite company or in the company of strangers some people will saying they are going to wash their hands 去洗手 (qù xǐshǒu) instead of going to the toilet 去上厕所 (qù shàng cèsuǒ). ...
9
votes
2answers
224 views

Neverending 你好 exchange, is it normal?

When should exchanges of the phrase "你好" end? I regularly see a Chinese person who greets me with "你好." If I respond with "你好" he immediately says "你好", and so on. I normally end it with "Yes, I'm ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

How do native Chinese greet each other on daily basis?

I have read somewhere that "你好" and "你好吗?" are mostly textbook greetings and are not used by native Chinese, at least not on daily basis. I would also find it hard to believe that two friends who know ...
9
votes
3answers
894 views

How do Chinese spell English words over the phone?

In English, if I am spelling my name for someone over the phone I can use a phonetic alphabet to ensure they get my name right. Especially for potentially ambiguous letters; d and t, b and p, c and e, ...
9
votes
2answers
97 views

Is there a “Peking Opera dialect”?

Peking Opera has a distinct pronunciation, that is at first similar to Mandarin, but to astute listeners, certain characters appear to have alternate or even non-Mandarin pronunciations. Take certain ...
7
votes
6answers
407 views

“小王” 和 “老王” how to determine which to use?

This is something I still haven't mastered and still just go with the flow. If I wanted to call someone a nickname, say for Mr. Wang, which one should I choose? What defines whether I should call him ...
7
votes
2answers
159 views

他在工厂住了半年/living in factories

This was an example sentence in Practical Chinese Reader 31. Do people actually live in factories, or is there some cultural context I'm missing? In previous chapters, people are constantly visiting ...
7
votes
1answer
123 views

How to cope with classical references?

It seems like references to classical literature are unavoidable in virtually all materials enjoyed by native speakers - I was watching an episode of 蚁族的奋斗 where a group of young men are talking ...
7
votes
3answers
922 views

How to say “giving someone the benefit of the doubt” in Chinese?

This expression connotes that one is willing to not insist on accusing someone of a mistake despite most evidence pointing to that someone as being responsible. As in a legal proceeding where the jury ...
5
votes
5answers
322 views

Why do Chinese “extend” the last word when speaking?

I've hear on many occasions that Chinese prolong the last word in a sentence, for example: ni hao ma ? becomes ni hao maaaaa ? (I'm not sure that's clear enough but can't think of a better ...
5
votes
2answers
132 views

Why is 十面埋伏 related to the number 10?

How does that count? As we know, Chinese directions can be categorized as 六合八方, but none of them is related to the number 10?
5
votes
2answers
192 views

What is the difference between 七夕节 and 情人节?

First off... 七夕节快乐! For those who are wondering, today is the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar meaning it is Chinese Valentine's Day! Actually something that I have been wondering ...
5
votes
2answers
265 views

What exactly does 媽个八子 mean?

Are those the correct characters? I understand it to be profanity but how bad is it? Worse than 你妈的 ? Any insight would be appreciated, just find this to be a funny expression that I haven't heard of ...
5
votes
1answer
850 views

Use of Honorifics

In Chinese films I've often heard characters refer to each other using some of these honorifics: 大姐 dàjiě (big sister; auntie) 大哥 dàgē (big brother) 师傅 shīfù (master) In what kind of ...
4
votes
4answers
185 views

The formal version of “謝謝”, “對不起”, especially in an email?

In English, when writing a formal email, one would sometimes use appreciate/grateful and apologize in place of thank you and sorry, respectively. Is there any such alternate words/phrases in Chinese ...
4
votes
1answer
111 views

Is there a Chinese word for liberation?

When I studied Mandarin Chinese in the early 1990's my teacher told me that there is no word for "liberation" because it is not a concept in Chinese culture. She thought for a minute, tried a few ...
4
votes
3answers
332 views

Proper way to address a waiter or waitress

From what I have learned, one should address a waiter or waitress as 先生 or 小姐. However, I have also seen the case (I believe it was in a drama) of addressing them as the general term 服務生 or 服務員. As ...
4
votes
1answer
55 views

What is the origin of giving certain corners within houses own name?

Thanks to another question on this forum i learned that the south-western corner of a house has its own name: 奥. I was very surprised of this notion and could not make any sense why there might be ...
4
votes
2answers
308 views

What words are used to express the sincerity when texting your friends in festival period,such as the Spring Festival?

In the Chinese New Year period, many people will send text messages to their friends on the phone(via the SMS). I will also do that. When writing English letters, you may use "Yours," or "Sincerely," ...
3
votes
3answers
117 views

When is it appropriate to use 剩女?

For the average Chinese woman approaching the age of 27-30, getting married is a fairly high priority, and a large motivating factor to this is the cultural pressure of avoiding becoming a 剩女, or ...
3
votes
1answer
308 views

What does 七年之痒 mean?

I looked it up and something about the Seven Year Itch but I'm kind confused. Does it have any deep meaning in Chinese culture?
3
votes
2answers
89 views

How widely used are 印章 compared to signatures?

印章 appear all over chinese works, especially in the past. Most noticeably in documents relating to business and arts, companies and individuals would use seals in place of signatures. In modern ...
3
votes
1answer
78 views

Is the Chinese character “蒙” being associated with Mongolia and ignorance coincidence?

In the translingual section, Wiktionary mentions that the Chinese character 蒙 has a variety of meanings: to cover ignorant suffer fourth hexagram of the I Ching Mongolia - radical composition ...
3
votes
1answer
69 views

小姐 and similar terms before the cultural revolution

I have listened to a lot of controversy about the modern usage of 小姐 and similar terms. Here I just want to know whether what I thought as a child reflected the usage prior to the cultural revolution. ...
3
votes
2answers
296 views

How to address fellow students junior to oneself (学妹,学弟)?

I have sometimes wondered what would be the appropriate way of addressing (fellow) students that are junior to oneself. Given name? Full name? Name + 妹/第? Are there even cases where one can use 哥/兄 ...
3
votes
1answer
303 views

How to wish people good health, etc during Chinese New Year 揮春 | 春貼 | 門聯、春仔

Every Chinese New Years I try to remember common expressions associated with huī chūn (揮春). 賀年的吉利字詞 (Hè nián de jí lì zì cí) Some expressions that I have heard are usually only four characters. I ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Various ways of saying OK?

I mean OK as in said in agreement with what someone has suggested. A: We should go to the park. B: OK. If someone used the verb 不 verb structure I would think you should use the same verb in ...
2
votes
3answers
326 views

Accepting compliments (without rejecting them)

I find it much more sincere to accept compliments and show how grateful I am rather than to belittle myself. Therefore I would like to know some phrases in Chinese to accept compliments and show my ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Resources for the Chinese section of the Gaokao?

The entrance examination for universities in mainland China includes a Chinese section. I'm looking for three things about this. 1) A source for questions that have been asked in previous years. For ...
2
votes
1answer
141 views

What are the mandarin words for these Chinese altars?

I saw some various types of Chinese altars in some chinese countries: Altar that hanging on wall (I suppose this is altar for sky god): ...
2
votes
2answers
202 views

How to say those mouth-watering Chinese dishes names in Chinese? [closed]

Chinese food is delicious. For example, beef noodles (牛肉面) is one of my favorites. Fried noodle (炒面) and fried rice with shrimp(虾仁炒饭)are also yummy. Q: How to say other mouth-watering Chinese dishes ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

Writing direction on seals

I am experimenting with an online seal generator, the text I have entered is 一千五百 and I have noticed that the characters go first from top right to bottom right, then from bottom left to top left. Is ...
1
vote
2answers
106 views

Why chinese people always use chinese subtitles ¿?

This is my question, almost every program, TV Show, movie... everything has subtitles, one reason could be that there are many different accents in different provinces but I don't really find that ...
1
vote
3answers
153 views

What is 猫舅 in the following sentence?

I assume this is a cultural thing that I am not aware of, but a friend just updated their status to say: 希望猫舅变成天使守护全家 Xīwàng māo jiù biàn chéng tiānshǐ shǒuhù quán jiā Who or what is 猫舅?
1
vote
1answer
73 views

Journey to the West / fire mountain

This question is not precisely about language, but really more cultural. It is about Journey to the West/西遊記. I am doing my Chinese homework, which is to summarize the chapter of 西遊記 where 唐僧 et al. ...
1
vote
3answers
598 views

Why Is The Color Red Considered Lucky In Chinese Language and Culture?

A constant feature in all things Chinese is the color (colour, for those yank-challanged among y'all) red. As common knowledge goes, it is because red is considered to be lucky. Why?
1
vote
1answer
59 views

Appropriate way to reject an offer

I have three case scenarios here: 這是一點心意,請你收下。 Please accept this (gift/money as an) appreciation. 我請你吃飯吧! Let me treat you a meal! 加入我們的團隊吧! Join our team! As far as I know, in ...
1
vote
1answer
93 views

What is “Chinese Culture”? [closed]

What is Chinese culture? What does it consist of? How would you describe it? I've been asked what American and British culture is - and I really have no idea what it is or how to even explain it ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

What is the name (in 普通话) of a card game known as “three card brag”?

I heard of this game "three card brag" - didn't quite catch the name? Also - is there a place that states the rules that you could reference me to? 多谢 :) 我喜欢中国的纸牌游戏! 特别斗地主。
1
vote
1answer
255 views

Trying to think of creative name for beginner Chinese class

I'm creating a beginner level curriculum to teach middle school students the foundations of Chinese language and culture. I do not have a solid foundation in the culture, but wanted to impart what I ...
1
vote
2answers
105 views

What is the significance of the phrase “二十五,糊窗户”?

The phrase “糊窗户” refers to the practice of pasting paper cutouts (similar to the one seen here) on one's windows. There's a common larger saying, “二十五,糊窗户”, which I assume means that this is usually ...
-1
votes
2answers
359 views

filial piety[孝]: what it is and what it isn't(?)

孝、孝顺,孝道、孝敬 all talk of filial piety which is a huge part of Chinese language and culture. 愚孝 on the other hand means "stupidly filial" and is defined by Taiwans Ministry of Education as, ...