Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

mnanon

A poliite way of asking for coffee?

Recommended Posts

mnanon

In my book's dialogue, a person says "小姐,两杯卡布其诺。"

What would be a more polite form of asking for coffee in Chinese?

For me it feels to be not polite with out a please, or with out a thank you in the sentence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

Don_Horhe

You can say "小姐,请麻烦你给我两杯卡布奇诺。" with the option of dropping either 请 or 麻烦.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jkhsu

If you are in mainland China, you might want to use "服务员" instead of "小姐" which is more common in Taiwan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Olle Linge

Not being a coffee drinker myself, I was thoroughly perplexed for a while reading the original post. I thought you had just misspelt 咖啡 and then added some kind of weird polite marker at the end (其诺) I had never heard of. Then I read the sentence aloud and banged my head into the keyboard (I have since removed the characters thus written to make this more readable). :D

To be more on topic, just adding 麻煩 is a good start. However, I think there is one thing which is more important than other things when it comes to being polite, namely your attitude. I'm constantly worried that I'm not polite enough when I talk to people I don't know, but when I've come to know people better, I usually ask them about this to see what they say. They often reply that even if I would make mistakes, which apparently doesn't happen too often, they know that it's because of ignorance and not because I'm not polite.

So, if you are a person who cares about being polite and respectful (which you are, otherwise you wouldn't have asked this question here), you've already come a long way. People can feel that you want to be polite, so the actual words don't matter that much. Still, adding polite words like 麻煩 and 請 is essential if you want to sound polite, so having the right attitude isn't an excuse to skip the rest, it's just a very good start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xiaocai

If you are in mainland China, you might want to use "服务员" instead of "小姐" which is more common in Taiwan.

Many places in Mainland use 小姐 too.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee

Re the sentence at #2, you can use either 請 or 麻煩 (no need to use both). And usually the server would initiate the transaction by asking you what you want, so you can just say "我要 two cappucinos". Don't forget to say 謝謝 and / or nod you head to acknowledge her service when she gives you the coffee.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MaLaTang

服务员 and 小姐 are both very common in the mainland, but if the lady is much older than me, i would refer to her as ’大姐‘, to show her respect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron
For me it feels to be not polite with out a please, or with out a thank you in the sentence.

Chinese often doesn't require these things to be polite, and sometimes adding them just makes you sound silly, e.g. imagine you were in a cafe in an English speaking country and said: "my dear waitress, if you could possibly be so kind as to bring me two cappuccinos, I'd be ever so grateful". You could argue that yes, it's more polite than just saying, "two cappuccinos please", but the reality is, no-one would ever really say such an overly polite sentence, and if you did, other people would probably think you were a bit weird.

In this case, I think the original "小姐,两杯卡布其诺。" is perfectly acceptable, and the politeness or lack of it will be conveyed by your tone.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gymnosopher
"my dear waitress, if you could possibly be so kind as to bring me two cappuccinos, I'd be ever so grateful" ... no-one would ever really say such an overly polite sentence, and if you did, other people would probably think you were a bit weird.

Enter the nouveaux-eccentric language learner?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mnanon

Is saying please when one orders a cappuccino in China the equivalent of saying "my dear waitress, if you could possibly be so kind as to bring me two cappuccinos, I'd be ever so grateful" in England?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
imron

It's not the exact equivalent :mrgreen: (although IMO using 麻烦你 is starting to head in that direction), but it's still taking the English concept of what it means to be polite and applying that to the Chinese language, without regards for how Chinese might actually express politeness or lack of it in a similar situation.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gymnosopher

The point is that it's uncommon and a little awkward, so yes - when trying to explain to learners of Chinese what adding in unnecessary polite words would come across like to native Chinese it makes sense to show you a situation you're familiar with and put in more polite words.

In other words, the sentence isn't longer and just saying 'please' doesn't disrupt the sentence flow so much - but it's the way you'd feel if someone spoke to you in English like the above sentence.

It takes some mental somersaults to tell yourself that you're not being impolite when you feel like you're demanding this or that and being blunt but that's life - so forcing yourself to reference that it's like with the shoe on the other foot can help you feel more comfortable. The same can help when you think of when you met learners of English and what you thought of their mistakes opposed to them saying nothing - it's the difference of feeling unprepared to talk and jumping in. I feel this stretches to many situations in fact.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mnanon

When in Rome do as the Romans... turning that around, when amongst Barbarians, remain a Roman.

I never imagined to find an example of British manners being less of another nation.

I asked some Chinese friends, and I was told by them that to be polite in the context I mentioned is perfectly fine.

Having good manners is never a bad thing.

They told me to say "小姐, 麻烦你......."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Iriya

When you enter a shop in China they usually just say 你要什么, which is perfectly fine. But saying "what do you want?" in English would, of course, be considered too blunt and impolite.

When in Rome, etc (not sure what Italians do though)...

See my avatar.

When in Rome do as the Romans... turning that around, when amongst Barbarians, remain a Roman.

You won't get very far with such an attitude. Some languages use more polite words than the others. Nothing more, nothing less. Should the Japanese and Koreans look down on the other nations as 'barbarians'? How would you react if you saw a sign in English written by a Japanese person that said "There can be no forgiveness for our humble shop not performing its duty this day".

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mnanon

I was not saying anything is Barbaric, just discussing the 'When in Rome do as the Romans', of course one should adopt to the other situation but one should not let go of one's own character.

I was told as well it is okay to say "小姐,两杯————,谢谢。" and would not be seen as weird.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

What about a context where saying "thank you" to a friend indicates that you're not real friends, because in that country it is a convention that saying "thank you" is a formal remark that friends would never use, and your use of it would make the person and all around you think that you didn't treat him as a friend, but less warmly, as someone who is not close to you. Would you still say "thank you"?

And I imagine you think that Americans are far more polite than English people, because they will routinely add a "you're welcome" after a "thank you"? (I'm not saying they're not!)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Iriya

As I see it, being "too polite" in Chinese can have various implications, people might think you're showing off or deliberately distancing yourself. E.g. 谢谢 is actually a pretty strong word and shouldn't be used with close friends, people might wonder why are you suddenly so 客气.

EDIT: realmayo beat me to it.

I'll add another example then. When the 关系 between people is really good, there's no need to be polite at all. E.g. a Chinese girl can ask her friend what does she think of her new dress, and the friend might respond that it looks absolutely terrible and she should return it. It's perfectly normal. You're friends, you don't need to hide anything. Your Chinese friends might tell that you have bad teeth, that you're a lazy bum, that you're an irresponsible bastard, etc, etc. It's all perfectly normal and acceptable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fanglu

How would you react if you saw a sign in English written by a Japanese person that said "There can be no forgiveness for our humble shop not performing its duty this day".

I would think it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
skylee

Paragraph 1 in #18 is all new to me.

The OP asks how to ask for coffee politely in a shop. I confirm that it is ok to say 謝謝. It won't sound strange or too polite.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...