Chinese “compliments” — English student edition

Chinese ways of showing interest, care or concern for someone often take the form of unsolicited advice about things foreigners consider very personal, usually with humourous (if the foreigners are well-adjusted) or tearful (if they’re not) results. Here’s what one of my bald coworkers received in a Chinese Valentine’s Day card from one of our students:

I had an experience of touching your head. It was not slipped as I imagined. but it was nice. At last, I have a suggestion: lose some weight! You’ll more handsome, no the most handsome if you lose your weight!

Have a baby soon.

For more about this quirky (to us) Chinese way of showing interest, care or concern see:

3 thoughts on “Chinese “compliments” — English student edition”

  1. This got a big chuckle out of me. I clicked through to your older post about 关心 talk. Your approach is great though (from your other post)that the best response is to laugh it off. I had a huge laugh with an American friend of mine when I told her about a “relaxing” massage I went to get at a Chinese massage place here in CA. When the woman discovered I spoke Chinese, and then asked all the personal questions about marriage, age, job, money etc., she spent the rest of the massage talking about what a wrecked and sad life I had because I hadn’t had kids and now might be too old. And that “even though you are pretty, you see how you never know how unlucky people can be despite their looks”. Then their was the advice, that even though it is too late maybe try. She said it was probably because I was 羊 (ram) in Chinese astrology and her auntie told her rams seem lucky but have a thread of unluck going through their lives. Whew, I needed a strong drink after that relaxing treatment. But it was great fodder for laughs later. When I was in my early twenties I used to cry when people told me I was too fat and should go on a diet (I weighed 120 pounds). One time when this happened, my friend told me “no I am showing you I care about you”. Now I know to take it in stride and that the intentions are good. Before settling down Chinese friends and acquaintances always asked if I was married, then when I answered “no”, immediately asked “But why aren’t you married?” My answer was always “Why haven’t you found me a husband?”

  2. Funny! In my grammar class at a local university, we had to write comparative sentences in Chinese. My North Korean classmate wrote “Our classmate’s body is not the same as our country men’s body.” The classmate was clearly me since I am neither Chinese nor North Korean sized. My teacher (to her credit) told him that the grammar was correct but the meaning was strange or not good. She refused to write it on the board. I had to take it in stride as I’ve had plenty of comments about my weight.

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