5 Language and Cultural Differences That Confuse Foreigners in China

1. Trying to figure out if someone is actually there sibling or if it’s actually their cousin or friend…

Chinese: “This is my sister”
Foreigner: “OK, so you have the same parents?”
Chinese: “No?”
Foreigner: “……..”

2. Trying to explain that ‘meat’ isn’t just pork…

Foreigner: “I don’t want meat”
Chinese: “OK, how about some beef”
Foreigner: “I said no meat!”
Chinese: “Beef isn’t meat…”

3. It’s acceptable to call a stranger beautiful/handsome…

In China:
“Beautiful girl, I want a bowl of noodles”

In the West:
“Beautiful girl, I want a bowl of noodles”
*Slap in the face*

4. Explaining to an older person that you can’t speak Chinese… and also can’t read…

Older Chinese man
Foreigner: “I don’t understand”
Chinese: “Oh, you must not understand my accent, let me write it down for you”
Foreigner: “No I can’t read Chinese either!”
Chinese: “??????”

5. Showing appreciation at a restaurant…

Foreigner: “These noodles are delicious, should we give a tip?”
Chinese: “No, that’s rude in China”
Foreigner: “What should we do then?”
Chinese “Just slurp your noodles really loudly!”

Post by Jane Fitchett
Student at Sichuan University

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