Questions tagged [culture]

Questions about the cultural side of China and Chinese.

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27
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
16
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
15
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3answers
4k 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?
15
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6answers
575 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). ...
14
votes
4answers
8k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
956 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. ...
11
votes
6answers
878 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
2k 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, ...
11
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5answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
2k 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
2answers
272 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
2answers
347 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
2answers
170 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
154 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
991 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 way ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
599 views

Where does the middle name go in a name that has been translated into Chinese?

Many westerners (like I) possess a three-part name in full. given + middle + family [名·中间名·姓] It's understood that―in China―middle names typically don't exist. Usually, westerners only translate ...
5
votes
2answers
173 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
3k 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
1k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
543 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
543 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
2k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
425 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," ...
4
votes
4answers
543 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
191 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
2answers
669 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 becomes ...
4
votes
1answer
636 views

What are the continents according to Chinese schemes?

In the United States, I was taught a geographical scheme comprising seven continents: Africa (非洲), Antarctica (南极洲), Asia (亚洲), Australia (澳洲), Europe (欧洲), North America (北美洲), and South America (...
4
votes
1answer
114 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. ...
4
votes
1answer
68 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
730 views

Thank You : 谢谢 vs 感谢 vs 跪谢 vs 多谢

While expressing gratitude in spoken Mandarin , I believe people use 谢谢 and 感谢. For example 谢谢你的时间 OR 谢谢你带我来这里 . Does 感谢你的时间 OR 感谢你带我来这里 imply a higher level of gratitude ? Is there a difference in ...
3
votes
3answers
143 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
972 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
4answers
512 views

Who should be counted when responding to 你家有几口人 (nǐjiā yǒu jǐkǒurén) “how many people are there in your family”?

An early question in Chinese people learn is: 你家有几口人? How many people are there in your family? (nǐjiā yǒu jǐkǒurén) My Chinese text book contains these example responses: 五口人。他们是我爸爸,我哥哥,...
3
votes
2answers
378 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
130 views

Antique Chinese painting

Before I ask I'd like to say how much I admire Chinese culture and art. Hence I always dig in antique shops for something from China. A few years ago I bought these beautiful twin paintings (not ...
3
votes
3answers
950 views

Can you explain the differences between the following sentences?

冬天:能穿多少穿多少;夏天:能穿多少穿多少。 剩女产生的原因有两个:一是谁都看不上;二是谁都看不上。 女孩给男朋友打电话:如果你到了,我还没到,你就等着吧;如果我到了,你还没到,你就等着吧。 单身的原因:原来是喜欢一个人,现在是喜欢一个人。 男人对一个女人有好感的原因:一是喜欢上这个女人;二是喜欢上这个女人。 男人约会迟到的原因:一是睡过了;二是睡过了。 Thanks.
3
votes
2answers
244 views

Do 男人 and 女人 have an unfavourable connotation?

I've sometimes earned laughter when I used 一个女人 or 一个男人. Does it have a derogative connotation? Is it better to use 女的/男的 or 女生/男生? Are there regional differences in the usage?
3
votes
1answer
1k 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
5answers
2k 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
153 views

Do many Taiwanese self identify as Mandarin speakers and if not, why?

I was chatting with a Taiwanese student the other day and asked him what language they speak there. He just answered "Chinese" and didn't know about a dialect or variant of Mandarin. Even the words ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Size of vocabulary of highly educated Chinese person

I've read in various places on the internet that the average vocabulary of a Chinese person is around 5,000 words. How about highly educated Chinese people? E.g. those with PhD's or holding top ...
2
votes
2answers
397 views

天干、地支、八卦和六十四卦 Heavenly Stems, Earthly Branches, 8 Trigrams and 64 Hexagrams

When looking up individual characters in modern dictionaries, I often come across descriptions such as "one of the ten Heavenly Stems", "nth Earthly Branch", "one of the Eight Trigrams", etc. Is it ...
2
votes
1answer
245 views

What is the meaning of the phrase 铁血丹心 ?

This is the title of a famous wuxia-novel, whose full title is 射鵰英雄傳之鐵血丹心, it is also a the name of a Cantonese song. I have searched for an explanation of this phrase. I thought, maybe it is a ...
2
votes
3answers
921 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
1answer
155 views

What is this 喜迎十九大 event all over the recent Chinese news?

A few days ago, I was browsing around CCTV and I found this page labeled "喜迎十九大", with the hammer and sickle next to it and I was immediately interested. http://news.cctv.com/special/xysjd/index....
2
votes
2answers
155 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
198 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): https://www.flickr.com/photos/ripi/3969597088/in/set-...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Jean Pasqualini's book Prisonnier de Mao

I found this citation in wiki: Jean Pasqualini's book Prisonnier de Mao: "Prison is not prison, but a school for learning about one's mistakes" I wonder if it is a Chinese slogan of ...